As the resident GBB Season Ticket Holding Correspondent, I'm privileged to see and be apart of an unique side of games. Being able to constantly be in arena, you are often watching a totally different game than what most other people are seeing at home.
There was much made about the lack of attendance at Game 3 last night. No matter how you slice it, not selling out a home playoff game is inexcusable. Without question, we'll probably draw a good bit of ribbing for that, and even more so for my writing this piece about it, and that's ok, that's fine. If you can't pack out a home playoff game, you deserve it. But this isn't a piece to put down the city of Memphis, that's what TJ Simmers is for. This isn't even a razz-mattaz, ‘rally the troops' piece. This is just a lighthearted look at some of the more entertaining things you miss when you make a decision to stay at home rather than attend the game.
One of the main things you miss is the ability to interact with the players at the games. Last night, my favorite opposing player moment of the season happened. This was better than meeting Dion Waiters (I'm a Syracuse fan) and better than seeing Kyrie Irving hit 50 free throws in a row then meeting him. It was better than seeing Steph Curry almost do a face plant after tripping over his feet while taunting some Grizz fans. Last night, Deandre Jordan was making his way to the court after halftime, and a preteen kid, no more than 12 or 13-years old was raining boos down on him, really giving him the business. Jordan stopped to talk to a security guard, fist bumped some guy, and then gave a little kid a low-five, all the while, the aforementioned kid keeps shouting like crazy right next to him. Finally, having had enough, Jordan turns to the kid (standing about 3 feet away, tops) and yells, "HEY! I heard you the first time. Knock that crap off!" Now, that was hilarious in and of itself, but the look of sheer terror on this little twerp's face made the whole thing jump another level. He was petrified, absolutely frozen in fear. I can't say with certainty that he pissed his pants, or that he slept with his lights on after the game, but I can guarantee one thing: he'll think twice before screaming at Deandre Jordan again. So many times professional athletes just pretend to ignore everything most fans are saying, and that's pretty annoying and played out. I loved that Jordan not only acknowledged it, but installed the fear of God in the small boy. It served as an excellent reminder that no matter what team they play for, these are all professional athletes, and if push came to shove with the rest of us average mortals, we would be ripped to literal shreds by each and every one of them. Except for Austin Daye.
Jordan wasn't the only one providing a laugh for myself and others at the game. About 45 minutes after the final buzzer, while my brother and I were walking to my car, we heard a nice little commotion in front of us. We looked up, and who should we see but none other than Lamar Odom making his way back to the hotel (and then later to Beale Street). We all said hello, and he waived slightly, and we turned to leave, when out of nowhere, a guy in front of us said. "Hold up...was Lamar Odom just carrying a purse?!" And sure enough, we looked back to double-check, and good ole Lamar was indeed carrying a purse! Not a satchel, and not a duffle bag, my man was clutching a small purse in his hands like he were guest starring on an episode of Sex and the City. NBA Players and their fashion, man. I'll never understand it.
You also can't beat the crowd experience. Now, let me start off by hedging my bet here. There are a good deal of people who flat out suck, and this is true of any arena, city, and sport. There was a lady sitting near us last night that kept getting upset that people were standing up. At a home playoff game. In a must win situation. When the Grizzlies were playing well. At one point in the game, she even verbally assaulted two guys, citing that she "paid too much money" to look at their backsides all game. But for the most part, going to the games and fellowshipping with other fans is an unbeatable experience. I've got a friend I've made from Grizzlies games whose name I don't even know. His family sat in front of us one game, and we high-fived throughout the night and chatted about how much we hate Joe Crawford, and every time I see him now walking out of games or at a Buffalo Wild Wings, we'll shake hands and chat, and it's all because of the in game experience. Slapping five with someone you've never met is something you just can't get anywhere other than a sporting event. Also, let's just be honest here, but a good portion of people who attend professional sporting events are sipping a little bit of the sacrament, and while it may be one of the lower forms of comedy, drunk idiots will always be a timeless classic in my book. As a guy who doesn't drink, I don't spend hardly any time at all in clubs. Unless I'm doing some stand-up I'm never in one, so I'm not really ever around people drinking. But when you're piled into the forum with 18,000 people, you're bound to bump into a few people who've had one too many, sometimes even before tip off. Last night, I watched and was privy to a guy whiffing on seven high-fives in a row. Seven! You could blindfold me and stick me in front of seven strangers and I'm confident I could draw fingertips on one or two, at the very least. Plus, on occasions like last night, when Gary Goin and company are putting on a little postgame concert outside the Fed, you get the wildly entertaining drunk people dancing! Again, as a guy who doesn't go to clubs unless I'm performing I don't get to see the drunk people dancing as often as I'd like, but last night I got an overwhelming amount of it. While it was incredibly enjoyable to see inebriated guys walk up to a crowd of girls dancing and try to cut it, the highlight of the night was a guy I like to call "Mr. Bee-Bop Jones."
If you can tap into your imaginations with me for a moment, I'd like you to picture an older gentleman, about 6-feet tall, gray hair, military style cut, mildly out of shape, and clinging to his empty beer cup like it were the remains of a once great ancient civilization. I'm sure when sober, he's probably just your average guy, I'd guess named Chuck or Roger. He probably works a normal job with aggressively medium pay, and probably knows his way around a microwave dinner. But on this night, after several alcoholic beverages, Chuck or Roger made the transformation into Mr. Bee-Bop Jones. His dance repertoire was limited, nonexistent even. Regardless of what song was being played, Mr. Bee-Bop Jones had one move and one move only; bend at the knees and bounce back up. Sure, occasionally he'd throw in a little extended right hand, pointing towards nowhere move, but the bend at the knees and bounce back up was clearly his bread and butter. He executed it with precision each time, and just when you thought he couldn't possibly buckle those knees and pop back up one more time, Mr. Bee-Bop Jones would reach down deep and deliver another classic. He's the Michael Jordan of the knee bending move. These are things you just can't get from the comfort of your worn-out recliner at home. You've got to be there.
The Grizzlies also have a plethora of in game festivities and entertainment going on. Reigning Mascot of the Year, Grizz, is always up to something. Early on in the season, he did a video feature called "Grizz slaps a Heat fan" which they brought back for Game 3, and while it didn't have the same amount of humor or shock value the first video series had, it was still decently entertaining. There's just something about an oversized, fuzzy, blue bear open-hand slapping someone that's wearing paraphernalia of a team you don't like that just makes your heart swell three sizes. I would be remiss if I didn't mention a certain goddess with lovely auburn locks who we've all come to know and love as the little redheaded girl. I've been told on more than one occasion that roughly 15 other females join her and call themselves the "Grizz Girls" and are a popular dance team, but that's probably something we can ever really know for sure. Even still, a glimpse of her smile is worth the price of admission. Beyond Grizz and the ‘Claw Crew,' beyond the occasionally brilliant halftime act, and almost up there with the lovely little redheaded girl, the Grizzlies have one of the greatest side acts ever in the history of mankind. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and if you don't stand to your feet in a roaring round of applause when it's over, you most certainly do not have anything even remotely resembling a soul. I am of course talking about the Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas. I never really got the phrase "more fun than a barrel of monkeys" before watching the Grizzlies Grannies and Grandpas. Now I understand that and so much more about life. This rag tag crew of geriatric two-steppers has stolen the hearts of every Memphis fan that's had the pleasure of watching them perform. It would be my pleasure to buy each and every one of them dinner, and if I ever got hungry at 5 pm, I'd definitely try and do that. Since I can't though, I just watch with enjoyment as they flail about to a 70's boogie number followed by an out of date rap song. Does life get any better than 60-70 60-70 year olds dancing to DJ Khaled? I submit that it does not. Even if playoff basketball executed at it's highest level between a defensive giant and a group of supremely athletic high flyers isn't enough to hold your attention, the Grizzlies have a little bit of side entertainment for everyone. Whether you enjoy the Bongo Lady, the sultry sounds of Rick Trotter on the PA, or if you just have a soft spot in your heart for guys dressed like Elvis throwing down dunks, there is something for you to enjoy at these games.
My strongest argument lies not with the players or with the game, it doesn't rest on the shoulders of a large mascot or on the flat feet of Mr. Bee-Bop Jones; my strongest argument for attending these games is simply for the memories.
In October of 2010, I went with my kid brother, my best friend, and a 50-year old mentor to Atlanta to watch the Braves play a postseason game against the San Francisco Giants. I'll never forget anything about that game. I vividly remember our seats, roughly 13 rows behind the home dugout, and the view we had of Tim Hudson on the mound. I'll always remember my friend Ryan shoving our 50-year old friend towards an incoming foul ball screaming "Get it Jeff!" For as long as I live, I'll hold dear the memory of Eric Hinske launching a wall-scraping homer to give the Braves the lead, and picking my brother up in my arms and jumping up and down while getting repeatedly smacked in the face by his high-five attempts. And sadly, I'll never forget the sinking feeling in my stomach after Brooks Conrad's third costly error and the drive home, knowing I'd never watch Bobby Cox manage a game again. Anytime you go out with friends, or have people over in any capacity, or are just going about your daily life, you have the opportunity to make memories. When the day comes that my brother grows up and has a family of his own, he'll share stories with his kids of how his ruggedly handsome brother that occasionally does stand-up took him to all sorts of games when he was a kid. You can't put a price on being an eleven-year old boy witnessing old people drunk dancing and Lamar Odom waltzing towards Beale Street with his European Carry-All, you just can't. Those are the magical moments you can only stumble across while attending Grizzlies games at the forum.
There are still plenty of tickets left for Game 4, and it's a game you shouldn't want to miss. The stakes for the Grizzlies are high, and the level of importance placed on a victory will be large for the rest of the season. If you are financially able to come out to the game, you need to get there. Whether you come for the play, for the entertainment, or for the little redheaded girl, get out and support the team. Heck, even if you'd like to see the Clippers, get yourself a couple of tickets. Just make sure they aren't in section 110.
 This is my far and away the most ridiculous argument ever. "I paid too much money for this." Like the people sitting in front of you didn't pay the EXACT same amount of money to sit there too! As if for some reason those people just fell backwards into those tickets and didn't deserve to be there because you shelled out your hard earned money for decent seats.
 Shameless self plug #1.
 For the record, if anyone can help me out and tell me approximately how many beers in you need to be to whiff on seven high-fives in a row, I'd really like to know.
 Shameless self plug #2
 If you can read that word, and not be instantly transported to the middle of "The Three Amigos" then we could never really be friends.
 That's right, in order to miss an impossible amount of high-fives, you must either be drunk or a kid. You're welcome, HIMYM.
 Shameless self plug #3! You guys probably didn't think I had it in me.