Hall of Famer George Gervin presents the San Antonio Spurs with the Western Conference championship trophy after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – There was a moment, right before the Western Conference Finals began, when the NBA’s least glamorous franchise became its trendiest team. Devoid of star power, with no championship pedigree and the league’s second-smallest media market, the Memphis Grizzlies had suddenly become a popular pick not just to beat the San Antonio Spurs but potentially give the Miami Heat problems in the NBA Finals.

Coming off a powerful series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Grizzlies seemed perfectly positioned to do something special against the Spurs, a team they’d beaten two years ago in the playoffs. Memphis’ front-court combination of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph appeared practically unstoppable. “Grit and Grind,” a local anthem, had become a national phenomenon.

And then when the Grizzlies finally arrived at the most jubilant and promising moment in franchise history, it was over. Almost as soon as it began.

“They didn’t let us up for air at all,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. Memphis’ season is now finished, having been done in by the Spurs in a conference finals sweep that hardly anyone could have seen coming.


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