The Memphis Grizzlies remain part of a suspended NBA season. That is still the bad news. The good news is that while we all are stuck in this holding pattern waiting for something resembling “normal” life to resume, there is time to continue to reflect on why we fell in love with the teams we support and the games we adore. If you ever took these things for granted before - be honest, you did like the rest of us - those that lived through these times will never have to worry about that happening again.
Until the time comes that we can be together again making memories with the rest of Memphis and their Grizzlies, we will continue to look back on what was when things were not quite so...separated. Today’s roundtable takes a closer look at the moments and members of Grizzlies teams gone by that helped build the franchise’s short, but eventful, history in Memphis.
GBB SITE MANAGER JOE MULLINAX: I have had a chance to write about this a few times for GBB, but my favorite memory/moment is Game 6 of the 2013 1st round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the start of a run to the Western Conference Finals, and more of a wrestling event towards the end than a basketball game. Ejections, chants, and the elimination of the hated “Lob City” Clippers made for an intoxicating mix of sights and sounds. 18,119 people cheering for the conquering heroes, and the realization of opportunity secured.
But what will always stand out for me was the aftermath. The energy of Beale Street after the game. Sitting in Alfred’s looking out at the wave of jubilant humanity while I sat with my fiance’ at the time, my best friend, and his wife, drinking a beer and enjoying every moment of life. Two years prior to that moment I had questioned whether or not moving to Memphis was the right decision. While plenty of evidence had been built up to that point in time, never in my life had I ever been more sure that I did the right thing than then and there.
I’ll never forget how that night made me feel for as long as I live.
GBB SENIOR WRITER BRANDON ABRAHAM: My greatest Grizzly memory is from May of 2013 when the Grizzlies defeated the Thunder 88-84 in Game 5 to move on to the Western Conference Finals. It was one of those games I just knew I had to be at. Being a poor college student, I couldn’t really afford to go with friends so my mother got tickets for me, her and my brother to attend. The game was a blast, and watching Kevin Durant struggle to carry a wounded Thunders team was the cherry on top. Moving on to the Western Conference Finals and being in FedExForum as the Grizzlies clinched the series is a moment I’ll never forget.
GBB WRITER DARREN JEANS: There’s so many for me, but one really sticks out. My last game playing for the Memphis Grizz Line. Before every game, we would play on Beale Street. When I tell you it was a party, it was a PARTY. Especially during the playoffs. We’d have close to a thousand, if not more, people on Beale jamming out with us. I can remember it being so special because the guys knew it was my last go around. It was an extremely emotional day because I dubbed myself the Kobe of the Grizz Line. Add on the fact that we retired the same year and it made it all the sweeter.
I joined the Grizz Line right out of high school as a kid, and there I was walking away from it as a young man. What made it even more special was the fact that an older lady drove all the way from Louisville just to watch us play on Beale. Not to watch the Grizzlies, like the actual basketball game, but to watch us. The drum line. It was a special day, and I’ll carry those memories with me for the rest of my life.
GBB WRITER EDMEMPHIS: My favorite moment/era in Grizzlies history is the 2011 Playoff run. Not only was the finish a pleasant surprise, but the roster itself was so entertaining & trendy. Cocky outspoken personalities such as Greivis Vasquez & Tony Allen gave us incredible spunk & energy.
The stars of the team like Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, & Rudy Gay represented a cast of underrated but talented young cast offs who became the epitome of overachieving. That roster not only was the first in Memphis to truly establish an identity in the NBA with Grit and Grind, but they were also the first roster to truly connect with the city & also identify as an accurate representation of what Memphis culture stands for.
On the court Z-Bo established himself as THE best power forward in the NBA that season & put on a playoff showing for the ages. This was the beginning of when the documentary starts getting interesting when they make one on the Memphis Grizzlies.
GBB WRITER JORDAN PETERSON: So much of my Grizz memories bleed together like one long, joy-filled playoff run. I specifically remember the unexpected thrill ride of Mike Conley’s mask game against the Warriors. It was a classic rise-to-the-occasion that no one expected or required of Conley, but it solidified his grit and determination. It gave the Grizzlies hope when we had no business having any. That’s the same emotion I felt this season — hope when we had no business having any. Frankly, those are the best seasons.
GBB SENIOR WRITER SHAWN COLEMAN: My favorite moment was the first round victory over the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2013 WCF run. Being there, live, in our first true opportunity to deliver on expectations and live up to the hype was amazing, especially considering the year before. Seeing the crowd and the excitement through the city that night was incredible.
GBB WRITER BRENDAN SMART: I have one specific memory that I will hold forever. 2011, before game one of the Grizzlies series with the San Antonio Spurs, I was in Memphis at 5:00 A.M. You might be asking yourself why in the world are you in Memphis at 5:00 A.M. My big brother was a truck driver who delivered loads of produce to FedExForum. My brother asked me if I wanted to ride with him on his route around Memphis that Sunday morning. I agreed, only if he had me back in time for a game one at 3:00 P.M. for the Grizzlies tip in San Antonio.
Now, I had no idea that we would have the access that we did. It’s 5:00 A.M., the morning of game one, and while Memphis is in San Antonio for the first two FedExForum already had the growl towels on the seats for games three and four. My brother drives the truck into the lower parking garage where the players and coaches park, from there he unloads the truck. If you’ve ever been in the tunnels at FedExForum, you know that the curtains in the tunnel shut off viewing the court.
When we walked in, the curtains were up, and you could see the growl towels on each seat throughout the forum. That will always be in my top three in terms of personal moments involving the franchise.
GBB WRITER LAUREN HARVEY: I keep coming back to watching the triple overtime game against the Spurs in 2014 where Marc Gasol banked in a three at the end of regulation (not to mention Tim Duncan’s own bank shot to send it to a third overtime) as my favorite Grizzlies memory. The Grizzlies struggles in San Antonio are well documented and I vividly remember watching the game with my dad and reacting to each back and forth twist and turn just like it was a playoff game. In retrospect, I think this might have been the moment my Grizzlies fandom turned into obsession.
I have no other explanation for getting that animated about a regular season game in December. The Spurs were still arguably the class of the NBA and it was incredible to watch the Grizzlies beat them in that fashion on their floor. There are certainly more important or iconic Grizzlies moments but that one is my favorite.
GBB ASSOCIATE EDITOR PARKER FLEMING: Growing up a Grizzlies fan, and going to games for 16 years, there are a lot of directions I could take here. The MVP parties, the luncheons, the camps, all the playoff moments we’ve received, all the watch parties (games or draft)...they all played an integral part of my childhood and basketball fandom. I’m not kidding, I could write a novel on this, or maybe a 6-part series!
I would have to say the end of Game 6 of the 2013 playoffs against the Clippers may be my favorite Grizzlies memory. Players were getting ejected left and right, and the environment was electric when Zach Randolph exited the game and pumped up the crowd as he exited the tunnel. That series, in particular, was the last of the “Grind City” and “Lob City” playoff battles. It was also probably the last old-school rivalry we’ll see, like ones where the teams have legitimate beef. The end of the game put the cherry on top of the sundae for an excellent playoff series.
What is your favorite memory? Chime in in the comments below, and thanks for making GBB part of your fan experience now and always.