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TIME TO GET IN THE GAME?

TIME TO GET IN THE GAME?

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Wow. Wake up one morning, have the NBA on the doorstep, banging to be let in. No, that’s not quite true. It’s more like the NBA is an ice-cream truck, ringing its bell. Only in this case, the ice-cream truck came down our street and stopped right in front of our door. Waiting. Let’s ignore for a moment the dreaminess of it all. How it looks much too good to be true. What if? It’s a good question. For a city virtually ignored in terms of professional sports as if the gods had decreed a ban on the River City, this sudden turnaround seems ... well, it just seems like too much. Here’s the deal: Memphis has FedEx. Memphis has AutoZone. Memphis has a bunch of other less-well-known businesses who could contribute to an NBA team. Memphis has 1.1 million people. It is the biggest urban spot within 105 counties. More importantly, Memphis doesn’t have any major league sports teams -- the Memphis Grizzlies (should we keep the name?) would have the area to itself. Our two major competitors for this NBA transplant -- Anaheim and Las Vegas -- are hurt by the former being too close to Los Angeles (a city with two NBA teams already) and the latter by gambling, a Pandora's box NBA brass would just as soon not open. Has anyone told NBA commish David Stern about Tunica? Don’t answer that. We also have The Pyramid, an arena admittedly built as the Tomb of Doom for Tiger basketball (read: college). Lacking box seats, club seats, and a plethora of skyboxes, the landmark arena admittedly needs some renovation. But the costs are much less than a new arena. Plus The Pyramid has plenty of space for the team's offices and other attractions (maybe it will finally get the inclinator and theme restaurant we've heard so much about). If Memphis has a shot for this big league team -- heck, any professional team -- we need to step up to the plate, stay in the pocket, stay out of the crease, take it to the hole, and split the uprights. This is too good an opportunity to pass up for a city that has always been considered a basketball town. Sports are a defining attribute for a city. Even our illustrious president once called Tennessee “minor league” in reference to our lack of pro sports (this was said before the Titans). In this modern age, competing with the big boys is more than bragging rights. It’s a measuring stick. So far, Memphis has been in the range of centimeters and inches while our counterparts have gone on to yards and -- dare I say it -- miles. The NBA, which has reportedly (though not officially) endorsed Memphis, has given us just another inch for our ruler. But you know what they say about inches and miles. Maybe, just maybe, we need to take this leap. All it would take is a commitment from the city and the rest are details. With all the geometry, it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that it’s the right fit.

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