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School Days
Phil Taylor
October 18, 1999
For Grizzlies point guard Mike Bibby, his rookie season was a learning experience. By the end, he was an A student
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October 18, 1999

School Days

For Grizzlies point guard Mike Bibby, his rookie season was a learning experience. By the end, he was an A student

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April 19: Grizzlies at Lakers

Tyronn Lue, Los Angeles's 5'10" rookie point guard, comes off the bench midway through the first quarter to give his team a spark, scurrying around like a puppy on espresso. He beats Bibby and penetrates the lane, but Bibby recovers and fouls him hard. It's a shrewd move; after getting slammed, Lue isn't as frisky for the rest of the evening.

April 27: Grizzlies at Mavericks

Bibby and Lopez kill part of the afternoon before this game by going to a movie. They take a cab to the theater, but afterward they decide to walk back to the hotel. Bibby says he knows the way. "Next thing I know we're lost," Lopez says, laughing. "I was cursing him out. I said, 'Where are your point guard skills now? Where's your leadership now?' Finally a guy drove up and said, 'Aren't you Bibby?' He ended up giving us a ride back to the hotel. That's why I hang with him—because he's famous."

The end of the regular season is eight days away and the three-year-old Grizzlies will miss the playoffs again this year, so Lopez plans to spend the remaining days giving Bibby grief about losing his way. "But you know what?" Lopez says. "He hated not knowing where he was. Just hated it. I bet that's the last time I'm going to see Mike Bibby lost."

April 28: Practice at Grizzlies Training Facility

For Bibby, fatigue set in a few weeks ago. "I'm tired," he says. "It feels like I'm running in sand sometimes. Today in practice I felt like I couldn't go anywhere. Coach said to pick it up and go hard. I thought I already was going hard."

But there's no time to rest after practice because today he visits a second-grade class at Caulfeild Elementary School in west Vancouver. When Bibby arrives, he has all the kids say their name and age, and he makes like one of them when he goes last: "I'm Mike, and I'm 20." He was supposed to read to them, but instead he has each of them read a bit to the others from Edwina the Emu, helping them sound out the bigger words. Bibby seems almost as shy as the students, but he smiles a lot and the kids love him. "That was fun," he says as he heads to his car. "That was one of the most fun things of the season." For Bibby, that qualifies as a rave.

April 29: Spurs at Grizzlies

The next-to-last home game of the season is Mike Bibby Growth Chart Night. The team gave away posters of Bibby on which kids can measure their height. As a club the Grizzlies' growth has been stunted; after going 19-63 in 1997-98, they will end this season a dismal 8-42. But Bibby is one of the bright spots, finishing with a 13.2-point average and leading all rookies in the league with 6.5 assists a game, numbers that earn him a place on the five-man NBA All-Rookie team. "He has done everything you could hope for from a rookie point guard," Hill says. "He has gone from being someone people were concerned about at the start of the season to someone who's so steady that they almost take him for granted now."

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