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Memphis Grizzlies T-Shirts for the Errryman

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Scott Cacciola wrote a nice article for the New York Times on the secondary Grizzlies t-shirt market.

Joshua Smith, a native Memphian and longtime Grizzlies fan, was watching the game on television, and when he saw Allen (and, more important, heard him), he instantly sensed another opportunity to expand his grass-roots business.

"As soon as he started patting his hands on the ground, I’m thinking, T-shirt," Smith said.

The Grizzlies’ success in recent seasons has captivated this lunch-pail city, hard by the Mississippi River. Ahead of Game 6 on Friday night at FedEx Forum, the Grizzlies were once again everywhere — on billboards and on posters, on team-issued Growl Towels and on license plates. Walk two blocks, and a half-dozen versions of Zach Randolph were impossible to miss

But for all the licensed merchandise that the team sells, a robust secondary market has emerged for a specific type of Grizzlies-related apparel: T-shirts, but not just any T-shirts. These are T-shirts that people like Smith design and peddle, often with the tacit permission of the team itself.

As John Pugliese, the Grizzlies’ vice president for marketing, communications and broadcast, put it: "When you have fans interacting with your brand — not just purchasing tickets or watching you on TV, but truly taking their time and effort to create artwork, put it on a blank shirt and wear that T-shirt — that type of engagement is what we’re all striving for."

This is a really cool development in Grizzlies gear, and even cooler that the Grizzlies are even cooler with it.

On another note, I have always wondered who was the pioneer in this venture.  The earliest one I remember was Chris Vernon's All Heart shirt from 2011, but there may have been others that came before.  Feel free to educate me.