Breaking: Michael Beasley in the Bluff City

It’s been a while, Grizz Nation. With this first post of the 2014-2015 season, I bring some breaking news.

Michael Beasley will join the Memphis Grizzlies at training camp on a non-guaranteed contract.

Michael Beasley

There’s been a good bit of speculation around Michael Beasley as he’s made his way around the Western Conference this offseason. The free agent has openly worked out with the Spurs, Lakers and while less publicized, also the Grizzlies.

An anonymous, very close source filled in some of the missing pieces to the story. In classic Memphis fashion, Beasley met with Chris Wallace at Gus’s Fried Chicken today. But, it wasn’t his first time in the Bluff City. In fact, it’s the second time he’s worked out with the Grizzlies in the last 30 days. Beasley landed in Memphis again one week ago, but somehow, it remained underwraps.

Beasley chose Memphis because he will have a good opportunity to join the Grizzlies roster as a backup power forward.

I’ll know more details as the story develops, and you’ll be the first to know.

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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

Southwest Divison Thoughts plus Grizz/Warriors Primer

Wednesday night saw the Grizzlies fall in a rather disheartening fashion to the new look New Orleans Pelicans…still getting used to that name.  It was as if when Zach left to see the birth of Z-bo Jr. (surely heir to the throne of Memphis basketball), so too did the rest of the team check out. New Orleans’ squad does have talent, however, with 2012 #1 overall pick Anthony Davis, plus the addition of Memphis favorite Tyreke Evans.  Adding insult to injury, or perhaps the other way around, Mike Conley sustained a gash under his right eye late in the game when the result was seemingly not in question, although he is not expected to miss any time.

Also, Jerryd Bayless sprained a knee and is listed as day-to-day. Granted, we made another late push thanks to Mike Miller and the Zoo Crew 2.0….shout out to Mo Speights. The Grizz now stand at 2-3, with all three losses coming against Southwest Division foes (San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans). Let us not forget, the Southwest Division can and maybe even should be likened to the strength of the SEC in college football, and we’ll say the West for good measure. Sure, the Miami Heat are reigning champions over the last two years, but since the 1999 NBA Finals, a current Southwest Division team has represented the Western Conference in the Finals 7 times (San Antonio 5x, Dallas 2x). The Southwest Division came to be in the ’04-’05 season, thanks to the Charlotte Bobcats forcing realignment when the Association expanded from 29-30 teams. Ok, that seems a little top heavy, but also consider that last year the Southwest was the only division to boast a whopping 4 out of 5 teams with a .500 record or better (Dallas squeaked out a 41-41 record), and, of those, three reached the Playoffs (Houston, Memphis, San Antonio).

image courtesy of 30 Home Games

image courtesy of 30 Home Games

Furthermore, two reached the conference finals, the Grizz and Spurs, of course. Ok, so it’s not like the dominance of 8 consecutive BCS Championships, but I guess my likening the Southwest with the SEC lies in the depth of quality teams, meaning that on any given night, home or away, you can and will go down to a divisional opponent. It certainly does not appear that this strength will diminish any time soon.  Everyone knows what Houston did in the offseason by acquiring Dwight Howard, pairing him with James Harden. San Antonio is even keel as usual. Dallas signed Monte Ellis in the offseason, providing some extra firepower on the offensive end. Finally, Wednesday night showed that New Orleans refuses to be the runt of the group. A season ago, Memphis finished second in the division, falling short of San Antonio by only two games.  It will be extremely difficult to reproduce those results, much less surmount the 6 time division champion San Antonio Spurs.

On Saturday night, the Grizz will face a high powered offense in the form of the Golden State Warriors.  The Warriors are the NBA’s sexiest team right now. Young and hungry, love to shoot the three, and an array of young rising stars with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, plus the addition of athletic and Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Iguodala. That core is improving greatly under the leadership of second year head coach

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Noah Graham/Getty Images

Mark Jackson. Curry was listed as day-to-day for their Friday night matchup at San Antonio, however he registered a DNP in the box score after Mark Jackson held him out of the lineup. He is still listed as day-to-day, and expected to be a game time decision. The Warriors fell by 2 to San Antonio, losing 76-74. Curry suffered what is being called a bone bruise against Minnesota, and although he returned, he eventually left that game for good. This is the same left ankle which he hurt against the Spurs during the second round of the Playoffs last year. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, have been licking their wounds since the Wednesday night no show, and they need to have a strong performance before too many fans begin to have serious doubts. The season is still young, but many analysts project the Warriors to finish ahead of the Grizz, not that their opinion matters (except for Charles Barkley, because let’s be honest, he loves Memphis). The Rockets and the Clippers too seem to be favored over Memphis in many peoples’ eyes.  Even more alarming are the strong showings by the Lakers and other teams such as the Timberwolves (although time will tell).  The Lakers are still waiting on the services of Kobe Bryant, but it appears he has eyed a date for his return….against the Grizz no less.

The #blackout referring to the Lakers’ new Hollywood Nights uniforms they will be donning during select games this year. We can only speculate that the #bearhunt refers to Friday, November 15th, when the Grizz clash with the Lakers in Staples Center.

If the Grizz hope to make another deep postseason run, they need to show good form sooner rather than later, because no games can be wasted in this packed Western Conference. How we perform Saturday night against the darlings of the NBA should provide Grizz Nation with a more realistic outlook down the road. I believe two key factors play into Memphis’ favor. First, the Warriors will be playing their second game in as many nights against two tough proud opponents. Second, this will be a Saturday night in FedEx Forum. It will be the biggest show in town thus far, so the attendance and decibel level will be high. Moreover, the Grizz will have had two full days of rest since their last game, so the legs will be fresh. Recent history is also on Memphis’ side, with the Grizz prevailing in 9 straight meetings with the Warriors. Look for Memphis to start fast, absorb some Golden State runs, and make this a close Grit & Grind game into the fourth quarter.

Tip off in Memphis

7:00 PM Grizz Time

FedEx Forum

-Travis Nauert

Proof, The FedEx Forum is a magical place

This perfectly encapsulates everything Grizz Nation loves about the Grindhouse. Best venue, best fans, best players. Thank you for the beautiful words, Rembert Browne.

http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/81276/a-night-with-future-z-bo-tony-allen-and-the-memphis-grizzlies

(JOE MURPHY/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

(JOE MURPHY/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Thoughts of a Grizz Fan During Opening Night

The Memphis Grizzlies fell to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night by a score of 101-94, extending an american professional sports record of losses in season opening games to 13. That is certainly not the kind of statistic you want to hear coming off the franchise’s most successful season, but it was just one game (as Nick Saban would tell you).

Seriously, that guy gets way too heated, even after a win.

It will be a long arduous road to the post season as it always is….Nothing has changed….Well some things have changed.  Dave Joerger is the new sheriff in town, Mike Miller has returned, and even the food at FedEx Forum is different. The well known core of Conley, Allen, Randolph, and Gasol remains intact (although it appears Rudy Gay’s retina was not until recently….), and the goal remains a shot at the title. Enough pondering, here are some of my thoughts (and I’m sure your’s too) as key moments unfolded:

Five Minutes Before Tip Off: I’ve successfully found a good link online to stream the game….with Pete Pranica and Sean Tuohy none the less……where’s Brev?

Tip-Off, First Quarter Begins

12:00 1Q: Marc secures the tip, Conley scores a mere 16 seconds into the game. The        Dave JoergerBomb Era is an instant success! Lionel who?i(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

5:39 1Q: Mike Miller returns to the court in a Grizzlies uniform. Memphians shed a collective tear…

5:05 1Q: Marc Gasol bear claws a defensive rebound, outlet pass to Bayless, who dishes to Miller for 3!!!  Grizz up 14-9. IT’S MILLER TIME!

End of First Quarter: Grizzlies lead 20-18. Shooting a pedestrian 32 percent from the field and Prince leads in scoring with 7. The up tempo offense is smoking its going so fast….

Second Quarter

11:25 2Q: Quincy knocks down two free throws, doing his best to match Prince and earn a starting role. Grizz lead 22-18

11:10 2Q: Marco Belinelli knocks down a 22-footer, Grizz lead cut to two

10:44 2Q: Matt Bonner drills a 3, pulling the Spurs ahead by one. I hate Matt Bonner’s       shooting form like Happy Gilmore hates the Clown.

9:56 2Q: Ginobili gets in on the action and gives the spurs a 3 point lead,  25-22.

Joerger calls for time. Good decision, wouldn’t want them to go on a long run…

9:23 2Q: Patty Mills drains a three pointer, 28-22, this looks all too familiar.

7:52 2Q: Another Mills three is followed by a Jeff Ayres dunk 33-22 (Who??)

Alright boys, pull it together.

4:37 2Q: A Danny Green shot extends the lead to 18, and the Spurs have scored 22 unanswered points. This is a nightmare, game one of the WCF all over again. Someone get Lionel on the phone.

3:45 2Q: TONY ALLEN FOR THREE!! Ending the drought and bringing the score to 40-25 spurs.

End of Second Quarter: Well, that was about as bad as any NBA 2K disaster you’ve ever had, a 7 point quarter.  Blame the owners!

Third Quarter

10:49 3Q: Conley then Prince score, 48-31 Spurs. Popovich calls for time, overwhelmed by the damage of a 4-0 Grizz run.

i-1(Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)

Fast Forwarding to 3:39 3Q: A line-up of Bayless, Pondexter, Miller, Leur, and Koufus graces the court. Grizz trail 64-46…at least our score is made up of the same numbers…

2:08 3Q: Koufus asserts his will, scoring a basket plus a foul shot, 68-51.

0:03 3Q: Bayless finishes off a solid run with the group on the court, cutting the deficit to 14 and the Spurs leading 72-58. Miraculously, we are in the game. Believe Memphis.

4th Quarter

10:08 4Q: Quincy misses a much needed three, and the refs award San Antonio the ball. TA lobbies the ref, explaining there is no way he touched the ball. A second official races in, fearing for his co-worker’s life. A crisis is averted, and the Grizzlies are given the ball upon further discussion.

8:07 4Q: Conley, Tony, then Koufus all take turns making a pair of baskets. Spurs lead 79-70.  Don’t you smell it? We’re within single digits.

7:37 4Q: Tony gets another 3 to go, Grizz trail by 7, 80-73.

5:00 4Q: TONY ALLEN FOR 3! 88-82. TA is 3/3 from 3’s this year after going 3/24 all of         last regular season.

1:59 4Q: Parker assists Diaw for a lay in, capping a 13-4 run, Spurs in control 101-86.

0:02 4Q: Miller hits another 3 for good measure

END OF GAME: Spurs 101 Grizzlies 94.

There are no moral victories when it comes to the Spurs. They dominate the all-time series thanks to a Hall-of-Fame trio. The Grizzlies seemed to have exorcized many demons in recent years, but Wednesday night displayed how the Spurs refuse to let up on the gas. It was extremely painful for a long stretch, but the team fought, as it always does. The bench got the team back in the game, and we outscored the Spurs in 3 out of 4 quarters. For now, the Spurs lead the season series, but the Grindhouse and Grizz Nation await November 22nd, when the two renew the rivalry with a Friday night showdown, televised by ESPN.

-Travis Nauert

WE’RE NUMBER ONE… according to ESPN the Magazine. And we’ll take it.

imagesI spend a good bit of my time in the University of Tennessee Rec Center enduring the elliptical on the balcony floor. Overlooking the basketball courts, this spot provides me the perfect vantage point to watch pathetic pick-up games and sometimes, if I’m lucky, members of the UT basketball team schooling all the amateur frat-boys in between classes. Yesterday, I spotted a freshman (yes, I can tell) donning a Grizzlies jersey with the number 32 stitched on front and back; OJ Mayo. Grizz already fresh on my mind with fast approaching season opener, I made some assumptions. I determined that this kid was wearing the jersey for one of two reasons.

A.) He’s a moderately involved Grizz fan that hasn’t updated his memorabilia.

B.) He’s just like me; the Grizz fan that still gets chest pains when they think of the disappointing career of number 32. The glimmers of hope followed by gut-wrenching disappointment still seared in his mind. Mind blown that time in the 2011 playoffs when OJ did this against the Spurs after draining a three.

Admit it, this picture was the background of either your computer or phone at least once.

<– Admit it, this picture was the background of either your computer or phone at least once.

Pains like this were commonplace in the first ten years of the franchise. Let’s be honest, they still are. Regardless, this kid and I were connected. We’re misplaced, passionately ridiculous Memphis Grizzlies fans. And if I may make one more assumption, this kid is sitting around, reading message boards while the Bulls/Heat opener is on TV instead of studying for his 9 AM exam (currently what I’m doing). Chances are, he can’t listen to Jay Z and Kanye’s “N***as in Paris” or “All I Do is Win” without déjà vu of the impressive FedEx Forum. Flashbacks to the nights we celebrated huge comebacks at Silky O’Sullivan’s. Who am I kidding, we also mourned the agonizing losses at Silky’s. If you salivate at the thought of BBQ nachos from the Juke Joint stand or know the name of the usher in your preferred section you know what I’m talking about. These experiences are why the Memphis Grizzlies were named the number one sports franchise in America by ESPN the Magazine.

It’s the intrinsic value of those pricey Western Conference Finals tickets that make us the greatest fan base in the NBA.

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The message I’m trying to relay is the Grizzlies were and always will be a hot mess. And Grizz Nation just wouldn’t have it any other way. So put all the disappointment behind you and get excited because, while we’ve been saying this for a handful of years now, this really could be our season. We have the skill, the passion, and the analytics (thank you, John Hollinger) to get the job done. So, relish our successes this season and resist the urge to smack the unbearable bandwagon Heat fan at the bar back to 2006 when we all still liked Dwayne Wade. We know we’re the best no matter our record or national attention. It’s going to be bumpy, but it’ll be damn beautiful.

Tipoff in San Antoniomedia_75ceedda6a464012b62701abe0acd58a_t607
Wednesday October 30
7:30/8:30 ET

 

 

-Casey Black