Opinion » Viewpoint

Sit! Stay!

Give the Griz their due. Don’t leave until the game is over.



I saw a fantastic play at the Orpheum last month.

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I saw about three-fourths of a fantastic play. I left once I figured out how it was going to end. Because, you know, traffic and stuff.

  • Larry Kuzniewski

Hannibal Buress was hilarious at Minglewood Hall a few weeks ago. From what I saw, at least. I left early because it was raining. Gotta beat those crowds, right?

I know what you're probably thinking. "Wow, this woman is a real piece of work. Why go at all, if you're not going to stay until the end? That's dumb. And rude."

Yup. Sure is.

Other than the part about Buress being hilarious, I made that stuff up. I would never leave a play before the final curtain. I wouldn't leave a concert before the house lights went up.

And I sure as hell wouldn't leave a Grizzlies game early — and neither should you. Especially when they're winning. Especially during the playoffs.

Despite five straight years of playoff appearances, the Grizzlies haven't been rewarded with the respect they deserve beyond the hometown. Instead, we get to read yet another round of articles titled "Don't Sleep On the Grizzlies."

Because "It's a small market." Because "People want to watch superstars." Because "They play ugly, old-school basketball."

Blah, blah, blah.

Memphis' roots in the NBA may be shallow, but the city's relationship with that orange ball is deep. If Z-Bo's twerk moves in the post, Marc's off-the-charts hoops acumen, and the Grindfather's general chaos aren't entertaining enough for you, well, I don't know what to tell you. Sorry your life is so boring.

Here in We Don't Bluff City, we know the Grizzlies belong. But some fans aren't helping our Beale Street Bears prove it when they can't even stay in the building for the full 48 minutes. Let other teams' fans look like jerks on TV. We can be better.

The families who leave at halftime to put the kids in bed? I get it. Bless them and their little future season ticket holders. They weren't the ones filing out of the Grindhouse during Game 2 against Portland while several minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

As I stood to let an older couple out of my row, I secretly rooted for the Blazers to mount a comeback. Not enough to win it, of course — just enough to teach those fans a lesson. To remind them that in the NBA — as Kevin Garnett once famously declared — anything is possible. He may not have looked like much against the Grizzlies, but Damian Lillard has killed before. (Just ask the 2014 Houston Rockets.)

I don't remember much about Miami's improbable Game 6 comeback in the 2013 NBA Finals, but I sure remember shaking my head at all the Heat fans shown pounding on the doors and pleading to be allowed back into AmericanAirlines Arena. Think they still bail out early?

It pays to stick around for the final buzzer, if only for the sheer joy of the glorious, quintessentially Memphis moments that follow: Streamers rain from the rafters, and DJ Khaled's voice fills the building, declaring that all our beloved Grizzlies do is win, win, win, no matter what. The sound of thousands of elated fans pouring into the lobby, high-fiving amid chants of "Z-BO! Z-BO!" is as sweet as a giggling baby. If I could bottle that feeling, I'd be an instant bajillionaire.

What's the rush? Downtown Memphis does not suddenly become New Delhi after a Grizzlies game. We may not know what the lever next to the steering wheel does, other than make a weird clicking sound, but we have it pretty good when it comes to traffic. "Beating the traffic" saves you about 10 minutes. You'll spend more time waiting for a table at Babalu on a Saturday night than you will sitting in post-game traffic.

Oh, but you have to work in the morning? So do all the other 18,000-plus people here. That's why coffee exists. There are three locally owned coffee shops on Cooper Street alone.

FedExForum is vaulting up the ranks of the league's best playoff environments, thanks to a lot of dedicated people who work their asses off. They're on the court with GRIZZLIES on their chests and numbers on their backs. They're playing soundbytes and dancing at center court. They're sharing Zach Randolph's Deep Dish Thoughts and dropping giant banners to proclaim "WE GRIND HERE." They're growling those three magic words, "SHOT CLOCK ... VIOLATED!" They're flipping off trampolines in Elvis costumes. They're scrambling to get a growl towel on every chair before the doors open. Do them the honor of sticking around for the whole show.

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