One of the best things about the NBA playoffs is having people from around the country discover Memphis for the first time. Brian Phillips, a Thunder fan and writer for Grantland, was one of these people and recounts some of the interactions he had in his four days in Memphis.
This is why having a relevant NBA team is awesome. It gives Memphis positive national exposure and people that may have no reason to discover the city are finding reasons to come and almost always leave with amazing stories. And not just stories about the great places to eat and hang out, but they leave with awesome stories about the people of Memphis as well. Here’s hoping the Grizzlies can hold off the Thunder so we can keep hearing these stories.
Go read Brian’s column:
Here’s something about Memphis, though: Little kids on the way to their seats will look you in the eye and smile.
What you maybe don’t know is that everyone in the stadium spent the entire game waving yellow “Growl Towels,” which, when shaken, shed an extremely fine yellow dander, so that by the fourth quarter the stadium sky was raining towel fuzz. Or how apeshit people went when the pro wrestler Jerry Lawler came out during a commercial break for a bit in which he hit a mock Thunder fan with a chair.
The Grizzlies crowd, though. Those guys will cheer you up. The towels are out and the roar in here sounds like an unafraid army.
Do you know how many conversations with total strangers I’ve had in Memphis? Normally I can barely talk to people I know well; here, it just seems like the most natural thing to start chatting with the guy next to you at the breakfast counter about the history of whiskey manufacture, or with the couple one table over about the Ann Peebles song on the barbecue-joint jukebox.
And around this moment I finally notice what it says on the front of the Growl Towels everyone’s waving. It says: “WE DON’T BLUFF.” And it hits me, finally, why I felt so furious about Silver’s performance in his press conference. It’s because he said this stuff in Memphis.