I knew things were different with Grizz Gaming this season, when one day last week we swept a scrimmage block against a team that currently has a good record in the 2K League. After the games, while we were dissecting our day’s work, I asked the guys if they could pinpoint what was wrong with the team we had played. Why had we been able to beat a good team rather easily?
“Well, it’s not that they’re bad,” Authentic answered. “It’s that we’re good right now.”
I blinked, as I realized Authentic was correct. This was something I had not even considered as an answer. I’d become so used to analyzing everything, to always looking to improve and get better, that I wasn’t ready to pause and give ourselves a little credit. Grizz Gaming has been playing well, at least right now.
After a disappointing end to the season-opening tournament, we got off to a 9-1 start in the regular season. This is not only the best start in franchise history, but the best start in the 2K League this season. Have we been perfect? Haha, not even close. Have we been the best team in the 2K League? I’d argue that we still have a lot to prove on that front. But have we played well? Yes, yes we have.
To me, last week was a great test of where we stood among all the 2K League teams. We had to play four games against two very good NBA 2K League teams, Knicks Gaming and Blazer5. All four games were hard-fought, with different challenges popping us throughout, from falling into ruts on offense to opposing players getting red-hot to defensive lapses.
But the great thing was that we kept finding ways to overcome those challenges and finish each game on top. We entered the weekend 5-1. We went 4-0. We exited the weekend 9-1.
If we’re being completely honest, I’m rather uncomfortable talking about how well we’ve played this season. As a sports fan, I’ve always been conditioned to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. We all know how traumatic it can be to finally, finally believe in our team and then have that joy yanked out from under us. In order to cope, I’ve long subscribed to the theory that the best option is just to not buy in at all, or at least not until the very last moment. You can’t be sad if you were never happy to begin with.
I remember being at Super Bowl LI in Houston, and ducking into a restroom just after the Falcons jumped ahead to a 28-3 lead. In the hallway outside I could hear Falcons fans celebrating wildly — prematurely, of course — and I clearly recall shaking my head, knowing that it was never over until it was over. (And as we all know now, it wasn’t over.)
Grizz Gaming is ten games into our season, and we’ve played really well. I do not want to discount all the hard work that has gone into this start and getting us into this place. Because it feels great to be in first place! We’ve been challenged ten times and as a team have come together and overcome nine times, which is remarkable.
But the season isn’t even halfway over, and we all recognize that we’ve only scratched the surface of the work that lies ahead. All of the members of Grizz Gaming have been through at least one season in the 2K League. We understand that there will be ups and downs, but what really matters is how we ride out the journey. When we reach adversity, will it be just a speed bump in our path? Or can we process it in the moment and keep it from knocking us completely off course?
So, I’m doing my best to keep everything in perspective. I couldn’t be more proud of the way all six guys on this team have bought in and sacrificed and trusted and believed in each other. It’s been fun to set goals and accomplish those goals. It’s been fun to put in work and be rewarded. And I’ve tried to remind myself to enjoy the process along the way.
One day after turning in a 4-0 weekend, we all came in on Sunday and broke down film together and found another team to get some scrimmages in against. Did I want to spend my Father’s Day away from my son and in our practice facility? Not particularly, but as we all understand, there is no shortcut to putting in the work.
Because the work is what brought us this far. And we aren’t done. We can be better. We can be sharper.
We can grind harder.