Zach Randolph Day in Memphis

Mayor A C Wharton has declared today, December 27th, 2013, Zach Randolph Day.  Zach will appear at Walmart Neighborhood Market (2856 Hickory Hill Ext., Memphis 38115) at 4 p.m.  The event will benefit Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

In celebration of the mayor’s proclamation, take some time to get lost in ZBo’s greatest moments on the court with Memphis:

March 6th, 2011. Game winner in Dallas:

Game 3 vs San Antonio, 2011. ZBo 3 pointer seals first home playoff victory in franchise history:

Game 6 vs. San Antonio, 2011. Clinches first playoff series victory in franchise history:

ZBo gets tough with Perkins:

Zach goes for 38 and 21 against Phoenix in 2012:

Games 3 and 4 vs. L.A., 2013:

Game 6 vs. L.A., 2013. Memphis gets revenge over the Clippers:

The Chokehold:

The Ejection:

Game 5 vs Thunder, 2013. Sends Memphis to first Western Conference Finals in franchise history:

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A Grizzmas Music Special

May 3rd, 2013.  It was game 6 in a first round rematch against the floppers from out west.  With a 3-2 series lead, the Grizzlies were presented with a rare opportunity that any team craves, but few earn. Playoff revenge.

Rewind the clock to Sunday, April 29th, 2012….approximately 10:00 PM.  Grizz Nation was riding high, and rightfully so, after an offensive explosion in the first half helped build a lead that would grow to 27 points.  And then it happened.  A barrage of Nick Young corner threes gave the Clippers 9 points in a minute and ten second span, all whilst the Grizz went scoreless.  Suddenly, an already dissipating lead of 12 was cut to 3 with under two minutes remaining.  The Grizzlies never recovered, as the “Miracle in Memphis” turned the game and series upside down.

Now fast forward back to May 3rd.  Late in the fourth quarter, the Grizz held a lead over L.A. once again, but this time, there was no miracle to save the Flop City.  Something amazing, however, did happen.  A time out gave way to Super Grizz storming mid court and mounting an enormous ladder.  And then he dropped it:

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

“FINISH THEM” – (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

The scene that ensued warrants many descriptors, but chaotic is accurate.  Grizz fans reached their respective states of belligerence as people jumped, yelled, sweated, and of course waved their Growl Towels, which read “WE DON’T BLUFF”.  Why all the commotion?  191 Beale Street transformed from FedEx Forum to Club Grind.  The speakers blasted Memphis hip hop favorite Al Kapone’s “Whoop That Trick”, featured on the soundtrack of Hustle and Flow, as Grizz fans lost their minds for 30 seconds….seriously, I think I blacked out.  The jubilation was pure.  The air was hot, despite Rick Trotter’s pre-game announcement of a stable indoor temperature.  But the Grizz served up revenge in it’s best state, ice cold. “Finish Them” Memphis did, as ZBo would be ejected in style after another KO of Blake Griffin, and, according to one front row source, labelled him “butter soft”….seriously Blake, give up.

The win pushed Memphis into the second round and a matchup against familiar foe OKC. The next time the doors of FedEx Forum opened for game 3 of the Thunder series, Club Grind reappeared in the fourth quarter, with an unexpected guest making his way to the court:

…Not in Oklahoma anymore, are you?

The two moments described, Super Grizz’s dropping of the banner and Al Kapone’s appearance, let the proverbial cat out of the bag.  Writers around the country began to appreciate what was one of the best secrets in sports, the music of FedEx Forum.  In the heat of competition, a major component of Memphis’ DNA oozed from the speakers and fans onto the national spotlight.  Memphians love nothing more than they love basketball and music…. and of course good barbecue.

People began to notice what differentiates going to an NBA game from going to a Memphis Grizzlies game.  Eric Freeman of Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo! Sports wrote an article in January featuring this topic.  He declared that the Grizzlies boast the NBA’s best in-arena music team, led by Jason Potter, Director of Promotions and Event Presentations, Nathan Black, official in-house DJ, and Justin Baker, who controls the in game music.  Andrew Unterberger from The Basketball Jones tracked down the three to learn more, which he too wrote about in January.  A number of other articles will appear if you simply google the subject.

Jason Wexler, newly tabbed COO of the Grizzlies and in charge of arena operations, noticed the reaction to the Forum’s music and acknowledged it during the off season. Wexler announced plans to release playlists of arena music for individual games, which sounds great, but to my knowledge, has not yet happened.

The soundtrack to a Grizzlies game will span decades in time and genres in style. Everybody knows the classics.  Ozzy Ozborne’s “Crazy Train”, Black Box’s “Everybody Everybody”, Fatboy Slim’s “Right Here Right Now”.  The established songs are saved for familiar situations.  There is the late game moment when a defensive stop is needed, and Guns and Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” rocks the roof.  Perhaps it’s a lackluster start and groaning crowd that cues Green Day’s pre American Idiot work “Brain Stew” from their album Insomniac.  Or, there are under 30 seconds left, the Grizz are up 4, and after milking the shot clock, penetrating the lane and dishing for a corner three which seals the game, the opponent calls time out.  The Gap Band takes it from there, as “You Dropped A Bomb on Me” punctuates the night.

Yes, those are good, and classic for a reason, but the Forum features a mix of alternative, local, and current selections that truly set it apart from other arenas.  For example, say the Grizzlies have just won, and the streamers drop from the rafters, then fans know what is next.  DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win”.  The younger crowd loves MGMT’s “Electric Feel” as Mike Conley dribbles past mid-court to setup the offense. As previously mentioned, everyone responds to the inclusion of Al Kapone’s “Whoop That Trick”, which has given rise to a fan favorite phrase “Whoop That Clipp”.  Tony Allen’s tweets have more than likely played a role in getting Future’s “Go Harder” into the mix.  Digging deeper, one might notice riffs from Nine Inch Nails lead-man Trent Reznor, or the sounds of Joy Division.  Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” was heard almost instantly upon release, as was “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green.  The playoff success of the tenth anniversary season inspired Teflon Don’s “M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Grizzlies”, which was then played at Grizz games.

Outsiders might assume the best way to get a taste of Memphis music is to visit Graceland, Sun Studio, or Stax Museum…and they should.  Those are historic monuments for Memphis and for music.  But to put a finger on the pulse of some modern day movements, one should look no further than a Grizzlies game at FedEx Forum.  Because during the next timeout you’ll probably see a trivia game posed to one fan regarding a song of Elvis Presley or Isaac Hayes, all right before Al Kapone comes out to say “get ’em”, and ZBo whoops that clipp to the newest beat around.

– Travis Nauert

Excuse time in the bluff city.

I just can’t sugarcoat it. Sitting down to watch tonight’s Lakers game, I’m not super enthusiastic. I can only imagine the rest of you have similar dark clouds hovering above your flat screens, laptops or whatever you choose to struggle in front of for the 2+ hours. Sure, we can definitely blame the injuries. Marc Gasol has been out since his injury on November 22, Pondexter won’t enter another game this season, and now, Mike Conley is sitting with a thigh injury. That only leaves three true veterans: Z-Bo, Tony Allen, and Mike Miller. But the injury excuse got awkward as soon as the Lakers bench started looking more experienced than Memphis’s starters.

Unfortunately, Mike Miller looks like he’ll join the boys on the bench in Dallas after limping into the locker room tonight.

(All I want for Christmas is Marc Gasol’s speedy recovery.)

These excuses are making up most of Memphis’s water cooler convos instead of the previous few seasons’ bartering for lower bowl office tickets. In all of the hullabaloo surrounding the shockingly unsuccessful Grizzlies season I hadn’t yet considered how the team was feeling about all of it. I may be biased, but this Grizzlies team could be one of the most emotionally invested in the NBA. I mean “all heart, grit, grind” is their daily motto. Those guys live in the losses constantly, and they aren’t the ones making the excuses.

“I wish I could pinpoint it,” said point guard Mike Conley. “I don’t want to make excuses for having a new coach or losing a coach. Obviously losing a guy that’s been here four or five years, it’s going to be tough on a lot of people. But us as players, we had to come back ready to play and with the mindset of wanting to get further than we did last year. Honestly, we didn’t do that, and so, here we are.”

(“Here we are,” meaning last place in the Southwest Division and third from the bottom in the Western Conference.)

“Really, I think we’ve got to establish our identity,” Conley said. “We have lost that in a sense. That’s defensively being a team that goes out and grinds out wins and finds a way to win. We’ve got to get back to that old motto of stopping each individual person, taking it upon ourselves to go out there and play defense and work hard” (Blinebury-NBA.com).

These aren’t novel words, but they are honest. And it’s not all bad news in the Grizz locker room. Jon Leuer has stepped up in the absence of superman Marc Gasol, averaging 13.4 pts and 7 rebounds in the past ten games. Calathes isn’t too shabby either, showing progress with ten points tonight against LA.

We’ve fallen below .500 with a 10-14 record, but we still have time. Hey, we’d be among the top 7 if we played in the Eastern Conference. But I digress.

Let me sum it up: yes, we’re pretty terrible right now, but no it’s not time to tank for that draft pick. Let’s be totally open with each other here; the draft isn’t exactly where we shine. Marc will be back in about a month, and Conley should return soon.

It wouldn’t be “grit or grind” without something kicking us down. It wouldn’t be the Grizzlies if we didn’t get back up better than we were before. Nothing’s better than a good comeback.

ZBo, Mayor of Memphis

The brief uneventful stay that was the “Tennessee Oilers” of 1997 left Memphis sports fans with a void that would not be filled until the Grizzlies relocated from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001.  “NBA Now!” was the rally cry, as people donned t-shirts and lawn signs lined the streets.  The benefits of adding a professional sports team seemed obvious: entertainment for locals, economic development downtown, and national recognition for the city.  However, as the holiday season nears full throttle with [insert peppermint/gingerbread guilty pleasure of choice], Memphians caught a glimpse of a much less obvious benefit to hosting an NBA franchise.

Near the end of blowout loss to rival OKC, Zach Randolph took time to do the following:

That’s some great stuff, and is just one of the many examples as to why fans around town consider ZBo the de facto “Mayor of Memphis”.  He takes care of the city.  Just recently, Zach was awarded the NBA’s Kia Community Assist Award for a multitude of service.  Students at Booker T. Washington and Hamilton High School saw Zach distribute 900 Thanksgiving baskets, and some even scored tickets to a Grizz game. 300 lucky kids received winter coats at A.B. Hill Elementary School.  Additionally, ZBo gave away 500 turkeys and 500 hams to families in Marion, Indiana, his hometown.  He was also recognized with the same honor (Kia Community Assist) in February of this year, nearing the end of last season.

While Zach is getting the spotlight (and deservedly so) for his contributions to the community, the entire franchise has placed a premium on giving back to those who go crazy for them in the stands.  The Memphis Grizzlies were named Beyond Sport’s Team of the Year in 2012.  Beyond Sport is a global organization that promotes, develops, and supports the use of sport to create positive social change across the world.  That’s right, out of every professional sports franchise in the world, the Grizzlies were recognized above all others for their contributions to the community.

Photo by Nikki Boertman

Photo by Nikki Boertman

The gift of giving seems to be contagious within the franchise, and fans appreciate the love.  From Quincy Pondexter’s “Random Acts of Qness” to Tony Allen’s appearances at the Grizz Den and Ashley Furniture HomeStore, the Grizzlies show that they do not just call Memphis “home”, they live it, and are genuinely invested in the city.  So, here’s to you Grizz, to recognizing that this is not a one way street.  It’s not just about entertainment. Your work has brought a third element to what is Hoop City.  People love the Tigers, and homers have their respective high schools, but everyone loves the Grizz, because people like ZBo might as well be St. Nick to those who reside on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff.

-Travis Nauert