The growl towels? The chills that go down your spine at the sight of thousands of fellow fans? Tony Allen flexing to the adoring audience?
Whatever the case, we all miss Grizzlies basketball for our own reasons. In preparation for the season, I wanted to count down my top 10 sights, sounds, and smells at a Grizzlies game. There's a good reason that the ESPN Ultimate Standings ranked the Grizzlies #2 in Stadium Experience this year. If I have any success, this will get you pumped for October 29th!
10. The walk to the Forum. With fellow Memphians surrounding you and the gigantic posters of Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Tony Allen overlooking you, the trek to the Forum seems to have a hint of magic in it. Then, when you turn the corner and reach the front, there's a huge portrait of Marc gazing over the Forum plaza. It reads "Greater Memphis" and that statement seems to ring true. Seeing the sun fade away and the lights of downtown come to life kind of gives you a fuzzy feeling as you gaze at the line of people rushing inside to watch Memphis's team. The plaza starts to hum with activity, and there might even be a band outside. Folks chat as they stroll down the street. The entire outside of the Forum is alive with activity.
9. The Grizz Time pamphlet. What I'm referring to is the booklet as you give the employee your ticket for inspection. I've kept almost all of the ones I've gotten, complete with the photographs, coupons, and articles they contain. These always serve as my memento. I can look through the tiny booklet and recall bits of the game. I personally love all the pictures and graphics inside. This little pamphlet also signifies that I'm about to enter into the wild, awesome atmosphere of a Grizzlies game. And that's a pretty special thing.
8. The fans. Yes, I'm saying the fans are a huge part of the experience. Now, the nicest section I've ever sat at the FedEx Forum was "a box." But that was special circumstances. When I do have the opportunity to go to a game, you can most definitely find me up in the nosebleeds. I can provide the perspective of this section of the Forum, as I've never sat that close to the court. But man, the nosebleeds contain some of the most fervent fans. Especially during a playoff game, you're in close quarters with these people, and they are all (like me) thrilled to be there. When the Claw Crew comes around to hold up signs for cheering, you'll find us all participating. And when everyone holds up those growl towels, it just makes you feel like you're part of a special club or something.
7. The opening introductions. When the lights dim, Rick Trotter's voice rings through the stadium, and the videos come up on the screen, you know it's time to watch some Grizz basketball. Plus, the fire that comes out of the goals scare me EVERY TIME.
6. The Grizz himself. Whether he's climbing up on a steep ladder, transforming into Super Grizz, coming to the Forum on a helicopter, or doing some other crazy thing, Grizz delights children and adults alike. What's a team without its mascot? Let's not forget this epic moment brought to you by our beloved mascotf:
5. The Tony Allen antics. Whether he's waving a towel, flexing to the audience, pacing the sidelines, or making a play that makes you cry or shout for joy, Tony himself is a huge part of the experience. The reason I'm pointing out Tony in particular is because, well, he sort of embodies the whole experience: a roller coaster of emotions.
4. The iconic music. My personal favorite is "You dropped a Bomb on Me," but who can leave out "Go Harder" and "All I do is Win?" Whenever I hear these songs elsewhere, I immediately think of a Grizz game at the Forum.
3. Rick Trotter's announcing. Who doesn't love hearing "MIKEEE CONLEEEYY FOR THREEEE!" during a game? His throaty, distinctive voice echoes through the arena, and it's gives the game a different dynamic. It pumps up the crowd. It gives you chills.
2. The growl towels. Something about seeing thousands of them being held up or seeing them spinning around in fans' hands just makes going to a Grizzlies game so special. I saw Indiana try their own towels last year, but they can't compare to the ones with "BELIEVE MEMPHIS," "ALL HEART," and "GRIT AND GRIND." You wave it. You clutch it tight when the game's on the line. Some make them into a blanket, even. It's one of the basketball traditions out there.
1. And the final pick is... the memories you make while you're there. This may seem cliche, but hear me out. Going to a Grizzlies game is something you won't forget. There are ton of other things that make a Grizzlies game awesome, and there are memories that stay with you forever when you go to one. Don't take all these things for granted. We're blessed to have such an awesome team, city, and stadium.
Share some of your Grizz game experiences in the comments below, and I'll see you opening night at the game. Go Grizz!