Last Night at the Grindhouse

letis-first-grizz-gameLast night my wife and I went to the Grizzlies season opener; it was her first NBA game ever and my first in four years and so we were both pretty excited leading up to it. I don’t think I’ve ever endorsed an app before, and I’m not being paid to do so now, but I do want to tell you about a great app I used last night called ParkWhiz. You always have to pay for parking in downtown Memphis and during Grizzlies games some of the garages jack up their prices, so a few hours before the game I was looking up the best place to park since it had been a few years since I’d been downtown at night and that’s when I found ParkWhiz. It allows you to find and book parking spaces near popular venues such as the Fedex Forum, where we were last night. I got a space 0.2 miles away, closer than I’ve ever parked before for just $5, and all I had to do upon arriving at the garage was show the attendant the number on the app and they gave me my ticket. This same garage had a sign out front charging $15 to park there, so I got a pretty good deal and will continue using ParkWhiz in the future.

We left the parking garage and walked the short walk up to the Forum where a band was playing outside and we went through security where my wife set off the metal detectors, as she tends to do in crowded venues. We made our way through the crowd up and up until we finally arrived at our seats. I’m not complaining, because we got our tickets really cheap but we were literally so far up that we had a whole row to ourselves, until the idiot behind me kept kicking my seat, so we moved down a row which we shared with three others. We watched warmups for a few minutes before the lights dimmed and Mike Conley came out to center court and told us how happy he was to be back with Memphis this year, and he made the decision to re-sign not just because of his brothers on the team but because of the fans. He didn’t mention it but I bet the 153 million dollars and the largest contract in NBA history had something to do with it as well. The national anthem was played. I stood up but almost forgot to take my hat off but remembered at the last second, proving my everlasting allegiance and love to the United States. Following the anthem were team introductions starting with the Timberwolves and it may have been my favorite intros I’ve ever heard. The Grizzlies have a new/old PA announcer this year, John Paul Stevenson, who had been the guy when the Grizzlies first moved to Memphis, but has been with the Houston Rockets the last ten years. He’s back baby and he’s incredible. The way he says the names of the opposing players in a quiet, unenthusiastic voice, pausing between each word like he’s struggling to say the name through the stench in the air is worth the price of admission and was a constant source of hilarity throughout the game.

The lights were dimmed and that’s when the fireworks erupted out of nowhere, just a loud, short blast. My wife even turned to me and said that was a little scary how abrupt and loud it was, so maybe my fear isn’t completely ridiculous after all. The hype video played but I couldn’t hear much of it, I had ear plugs in and as images went faster and faster across the screen I just knew something was about to go boom but incredibly it didn’t. Instead rappers 8 ball and MJG walked out on the floor and started rapping a song I’d never heard and dancing around getting everyone pumped up and then the Grizzlies lineup was announced. Fire shot from the on top of the backboard each time a name was announced and suddenly the coach was introduced and the lights were coming back up, no explosion. I guess the cavemen running the boom boom department evolved over the last four years and decided there’s no need for excessive explosions and for that I am very grateful.

At the start of the game there were a ton of empty seats and it was kind of disheartening, especially on opening night, but after a while most of the seats were filled and the Grindhouse was rocking, like the good ol’ days. Memphis got off to a pretty terrible start and at one point were down by seventeen points, 20-3. I could tell my wife was kind of bored and to be honest I was too, I wasn’t in the mood to watch the Grizzlies not be able to make a shot and get blown out. Then we started making three’s, something that’s been one of our biggest struggles over the years. Everybody was hitting them; Conley, Green, and even our big guys Gasol and Randolph had a couple, and it was awesome. By the end of the first quarter we were back in the game only down a few points and we went into halftime losing by a few as well, but we believed. By the end of the third quarter we had taken a narrow lead and my wife who is normally a pretty reserved person was jumping up and cheering with the rest of the crowd, yelling and high fiving, enjoying her first Grizz game.

It was a close game that came down to the end and the Grizzlies got the four point win in a very exciting fashion. In the last three minutes everyone was on their feet screaming and clapping, willing the boys to victory. It actually reminded me of the playoff games from that 2010-’11 season. After the win everyone was in high spirits as we made our way out of the forum. I’m really excited and hopeful about this season because after our first few minutes of terrible play, we actually looked pretty decent, and that was without two really good players who were injured yesterday in Tony Allen and Chandler Parsons, who should both be back pretty soon. We have tickets to the Sunday night game against Washington and after that huge win last night we are so pumped up and ready to get back to the Grindhouse.

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