This past weekend, for the first time in my life, I went to Vegas to watch the Grizzlies play in Summer League. To say it was a memorable weekend would be an understatement. I could sit here and tell you every single interesting thing that happened to me in Vegas, but, as you know, what happens in Vegas...
Just kidding. I totally would tell you everything, but that would take too long and frankly you don’t care. Instead, I’m going to strip down my action-packed Summer League experience into 10 of my tweets that highlight the weekend’s most memorable moments, good and bad. (And trust me; there’s both.)
- Early Grizz Nation sighting
JUST RAN INTO SOME GRIZZ FANS AT THE LAKERS/BULLS SUMMER LEAGUE GAME, WE OUT HERE— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) July 6, 2019
Something I didn’t expect was how surreal walking into that arena would feel. It was just this huge place filled with NBA fans of all different teams, sporting all different jerseys. Of course, most of these jerseys were your classic “LeBron James” or “Stephen Curry.” That didn’t shock or even annoy me.
However, you best believe when I spotted two baby-blue Grizzlies jerseys walking about twenty feet ahead of me, my heart fluttered. “Conley! Gasol!” I yelled, and they both immediately turned around and smiled. It was exciting for both of us, you could tell. We were thrilled to be there, and we were happy to find that even when drowned in LeBron and KD jerseys, you could still find a Grizzlies fan far away from home.
So my dad and I started talking to these guys, the classic, “Hey! Grizz fans! Memphis!” ramblings, and I was shocked when about twenty seconds in one of the guys turns to me and says, “You’re the girl who runs that ‘Made In Memphis’ Twitter account, right?”
That was pretty cool.
2. That moment when we thought Dwight Howard was gonna be a Grizzly
Dwight Howard, it was a good run. The 30 seconds that you were a Grizzly will never be forgotten. Memphis legend.— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) July 6, 2019
Just as my dad and I were settling into our seats, I received a notification that had the words “Dwight Howard” and “Grizzlies” in the same sentence and my heart instantly sped up in the worst way. For about thirty seconds, I blocked out the noise of the crowd and shared a classic panic with the rest of Grizzlies Twitter. Luckily, King Kleiman soon restored our well-deserved faith in him as it was quickly announced that we would be waiving Howard. However, the Thirty-Second Dwight Howard Grizzly Era was pretty hilarious and weirdly memorable.
3. Zion dunks and the earth shakes
I’M WATCHING ZION WILLIAMSON PLAY HIS FIRST BASKETBALL GAME AS AN NBA PLAYER IN PERSON. THIS IS ME RN. pic.twitter.com/CT1HJRicFZ— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) July 6, 2019
It was Friday night, and the Grizzlies weren’t playing until Saturday afternoon, so naturally we chose to attend a New Orleans Pelicans game to witness the Number 1 pick in action. The arena buzzed in an indescribable way as Zion took the floor for the first time, and the noise only grew as the big man (although big may be an understatement) shook the arena—maybe even the earth—with his monster dunks.
4. Zion may or may not have caused the earth to literally shake
can I add “earthquake survivor” to my bio or is that too dramatic (I’m so scared)— Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) July 6, 2019
After being able to watch a half of Zion domination, I started to get a really bad headache and asked my dad if we could leave. As we got up to exit, the arena was suddenly stricken by a bomb we’ve all learned to love yet fear: A Woj Bomb. Woj broke the news that Zion would not be returning for the game due to a knee injury. And just like that, my dad and I weren’t the only people leaving at halftime. Let me tell you; Woj sure knows how to clear out an arena.
And about fifteen minutes later, when I was struck by my first ever earthquake outside of The Thomas & Mac Center, I started to think Woj may have been onto something. Because I feel very lucky that I and all those people left; the earthquake seemed much scarier for those people still in the arena. Thankfully, everyone was safe.
As I talked and reacted with surrounding fans about the earthquake we had all just experienced together, I realized I had not yet checked my phone. I was shocked and honestly a bit humored to see strings of worried tweets and messages asking if I had “survived.” As much as I wish I could bask in the glory and call myself a “survivor,” I honestly could barely feel it. I think the hype around the earthquake scared me more than the earthquake itself. Maybe next time. (I’m kidding. Please don’t be a next time.)
5. Woj drops a bomb and tries to one-up the earthquake
Today I survived an earthquake and a Woj nuke. I am invincible— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) July 6, 2019
It’s not Grizz or even Summer-League-related, so I’ll keep this one brief, but it deserves to be added to the list. At 1 AM Vegas Time, Woj broke the biggest and most anticipated news of free agency: Kawhi was going to be a Clipper, and he would be joined by Paul George. I have no idea why I was still awake, but the insomniac Twitter crowd banded together in shock over the news.
6. Former Grizz reunion
Tayshaun Prince just made Vince Carter double over in laughter right in front of me. You’re welcome. pic.twitter.com/teADYYJSc6— Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) July 7, 2019
Finally, I was able to watch the Grizz play, although I was slightly distracted by the other, slightly more notable crowd members who sat directly in front of me. Seeing Tayshaun and Vince brought on a warm feeling of Grizz nostalgia as I watched a group of young guys grind it out and ring in a new era of Grizzlies basketball.
7. Meeting Tee Morant
THE GOAT AKA JA MORANT’S DAD HAS A MESSAGE FOR YOU GRIZZ NATION pic.twitter.com/Gb5CdpahKz— Made in Memphis (@MadeinMemphis1) July 7, 2019
Typically I would not recognize Grizzlies players’ parents, however, Tee Morant is an obvious exception. The way Ja speaks of his dad in interviews makes it clear his father’s motivation played a prominent role in his basketball success, and Tee’s iconic Draft Night outfit will never be forgotten. So when Tee Morant walked past where I was seated, I had to introduce myself to the legend himself.
And he was awesome. He instantly shook my dad and I’s hands, and was outwardly thrilled when we told him we had traveled to Summer League from Memphis. Mr. Morant enthusiastically obliged when I asked him if I could record a quick message for Twitter.
“What is it, Grit N’ Grind?” Tee laughs in the video. “Grit N’ Grind, we on our way!”
Forget the fact that Grizzlies fans have basically deemed ‘Grit N’ Grind’ dead. If Tee Morant says it’s alive, it’s alive. No questions asked.
8. Meeting Kyle Anderson
Following a huge Grizzlies Summer League win, I exited the arena to find Grizzlies forward Kyle Anderson waiting in line next to me for a taxi. The line was moving slow, and we struck up a nice conversation.
Anderson is twenty-five, so I asked him if he came to Summer League to watch and support the young guys. He laughed, shook his head, and truthfully responded with, “I actually came to meet the new coach.”
Similarly to Tee Morant, Anderson was extremely friendly and willingly participating in real, genuine conversation.
It struck me after meeting both of them how just how different it is in Memphis; how much more of an open line of communication exists between fans and players. Although we love the players here just as much as any NBA city loves its guys, in Memphis, they seem to not be put on such a pedestal. Rather, instead of being seen as god’s, they’re our local heroes. And when we’re lucky enough to run into them in public, they’re our friends.
9. Meeting Andrew Harrison
Just talked to Andrew Harrison in line for Panda Express at the food court. Vegas is weird.— Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) July 7, 2019
Saturday afternoon, my dad and I were grabbing a quick lunch in our hotel when a familiar face casually walked in line behind us. After a few quick whispers and sideward glances, we came to the winning conclusion that it was in fact former Grizzlies guard Andrew Harrison; not his twin brother, Aaron.
Though this may have felt cool and surreal in typical everyday life, during Summer League, nothing is out of the ordinary. And in typical Summer League fashion, my dad and I started a conversation with Andrew, who was unsurprisingly nice as well.
You could see he was evidently disappointed to be a free agent and not still a member of the Grizzlies’ roster; he even admitted this to us. Although, having once been a part of the Memphis experience, Andrew was nevertheless happy to meet some Grizz fans.
10. Ending off the weekend with a bang
Got to go to the emergency room last night instead of the Grizz game. Kidney stones are not fun.— Molly Morrison (@mollyhannahm) July 8, 2019
Molly: 0 pic.twitter.com/d8sBeD9AzV
I’m going to keep this one brief, because it still angers me, but Sunday night, about thirty minutes before we planned to leave the hotel for the Grizz game, I was overtaken by excruciating pain.
I kept trying to minimize my pain to my dad, because I really didn’t want to miss watching the Grizzlies, but it became impossible to ignore and my Vegas saga ended in a kidney stone and an ambulance ride to the ER. Not exactly glamorous, but it makes for a good story.
In the midst of sitting in a hospital bed in screaming pain, as I checked my phone I could not help but feel like the worst part was that I was missing Brandon Clarke’s Summer League debut. Still salty about that, honestly.
We were luckily able to fly home the next day, and despite everything, I really loved it. I mean, if you’re having any hesitations about making the trip to Vegas one summer, just know I experienced an earthquake and an ER visit and somehow still managed to have a great time.
Next summer, I’d even do it all again.
Okay, maybe not all of it.