For many of us, the golden, authoritative, and exuberant tones of Grizzlies broadcaster Don Poier -- which first graced our ears in 2001, with the coming of the city's NBA team -- meant that we were big-league at last. Whether it was Poier's inflection, his knowledge of the game, or his sense of humor, he was as valuable as any player or any franchise to a city that had felt itself to be minor-league in terms of sports and so much else for far too long.
"Only in the movies and in Memphis!" That was the excited finis spoken by Poier during one of the Grizzlies' first game-saving moments in Memphis. It became a signature line for the whole fairy-tale saga of the now-beloved Griz.
This year, TV fans had the opportunity to put a face with the voice, as Poier became the Grizzlies' television broadcaster. Though he preferred radio, Poier was a team player and agreed to the new duties after it was arranged for him to switch back to the radio broadcast on untelevised games.
"They asked if I would be interested in doing television," Poier said when the change was announced by the Grizzlies' front office last year. "I said, 'Not really. I don't want to give up doing every game.' I have been since the team started. I wanted to continue."
Though he's gone -- dead of an apparent heart attack in Denver last week during the Grizzlies' recent road trip -- the veteran broadcaster, one of several team figures who came with the team from Vancouver, leaves behind a legacy not only of professionalism but of goodwill and bountiful inspiration. And there's no doubt: That legacy will continue, just as Don Poier wanted.
He is our loss but, for time to come, also our gain.