NBA Playoffs Preview: Memphis Grizzlies

Welcome to the Negative Dunkalectics' NBA Playoffs preview, or as we would like to call it, "Emo Spring"! Over the next couple of weeks leading up to the first game (whoever vs. whoever, we'll figure it out later in a compendium post on April 15), we're going to present a unique, weird and possibly stupid way of looking at this year's playoff teams: through the lens of bands who stopped being relevant in the minimum of ten years ago! On that note, let things begin with the probable eighth seed of the Western Conference (also known as "the perennial fifth spot in the East"), the Memphis Grizzlies:

The Appleseed Cast - The End of the Ring Wars (1998)

One of the things that makes me appreciate the Appleseed Cast’s first record is how it, like many debut records by bands of this ilk, is how it combines a series of derivative marks typical of this post-hardcore/emo period into a very engaging piece of work. Surprisingly, I didn’t hear this album until after the band had lurched into the mid-oughts, turning into a still-alright indie band who composed concept albums that rock critics liked. It remains to be seen how I could’ve had such little direction in my taste, missing out on one of the most interesting bands that had populated an era I had really enjoyed when I was in high school. How could I miss something when it was so obvious?

Very similarly to this, many fans of the sport didn’t realize that Memphis still had a professional basketball team and that they weren't still whining about losing Pau Gasol. In fact, they are bound for the playoffs.

Like the Anniversary, the New Amsterdams and countless other bands, the Appleseed Cast hailed from Lawrence, Kansas, an all-American college town and home of the University of Kansas. While there are two one-time students from that school on the Grizzlies roster, it remains to be seen whether or not Xavier Henry or Darrell Arthur were fans of the mid-late 90s emo bands that had been borne in their alma mater.

Regardless, they are spiritually kindred, as the tempered angst in songs like “On Sidewalks” recalls nothing more than the disconnect that Marc Gasol may have felt in some ancient Catalonian hotel after being thrown into a “one-sided trade,” or how the quiet sadness evoked through “December 27, 1990” resonates with how O.J. Mayo has found himself for his entire career.

The coup de grace on this record is the epic “Dreamland,” which combines the classic post-emo/hardcore element of dual guitars howling in different directions for almost six minutes with the prototypical novelty of having two dudes yelp separate refrains as a crescendo rises towards the finish. “There’s no denying this is what you are” is the main exhortation, and this phrase can be similarly associated with the two most important members of the Grizzlies in this playoff run (as long or as short as it may be): Zach Randolph and Tony Allen.

Much derided over the years, Randolph found himself freed by the insult of being traded for Quentin Richardson in the summer of 2009. Since then, he has provided a quiet consistency with which he could be regarded as no less than “underrated.” Like Randolph, Allen has always been underrated, except for the part about being considered one of the best perimeter defense players in the league. Apparently Boston forgot about that, and as they scramble with the irregularity of Sasha Pavlovic (ugh), Allen has held his own in Memphis and become a better player. [Cue joke about punching O.J. Mayo into a bench role on an airplane.]

It is hard to root against a team that was told that it was an also-ran before the season began, but with the opportunities that the collapse of the Suns and Jazz have provided, Memphis have taken advantage of this weakness in the West to become one of its most riveting teams. The Grizzlies, bound for the playoffs for the first time since Pau left, are one of the most feared opponents in the first round; bound for a mixed up San Antonio, the odds are against them, but their hearts are in it. They've been forgotten about many times, their players mocked for selfishness or headiness, but now they work together as a team. This playoff run is just in time: and just when everybody forgot about them, just like I forgot about that first Appleseed Cast record.
Negative Dunkalectics co-editor Chris Sampson can be found on Twitter here, as well as in Boston's remaining independent record shops, perusing through the used seven inch singles looking for a gem to rip into MP3 format for sharing on elite torrent sites. Just kidding. For more Emo Spring NBA Playoff Previews, click here and wallow in your weird combination of nostalgia and embarrassment!
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