I knew what I was going to be doing this morning three days ago when the Memphis Grizzlies released the name and logo of their NBA D-league affiliate that would be just across the state line in Mississippi. They also announced that today, from 11-3 there would be a fan event, for the new team, the Memphis Hustle, at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, where the team will be playing their home games starting next season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some die hard fan of the NBA’s developmental league, and in fact have never watched a single game, but I’m pretty excited that now, Grizzlies fans will have the opportunity to watch some of the younger players before they get called up to the NBA, so at about 10:15, I left my apartment in Memphis, headed to Mississippi. It was only about a half hour drive so at least I won’t have to really go too far out of my way to watch the Hustle play this fall. When I arrived I stood in a line stretching out the doors of the Landers Center, with a crowd of fans wearing Grizzlies attire, while we waited for the event to begin.
I really didn’t know what to expect from the event, but knew the first 2,000 people in attendance would get free t-shirts, so I thought if nothing else, at least I would be one of the first people in Memphis to rep a Hustle shirt. Before the event started and they let people into the building, we were handed slips of paper, emblazoned with the team’s logo, and asked to write our name, address, phone number, and email address, and then circle yes or no to whether we wanted to find out more about tickets or receive team emails. It would have been a much smoother process had they handed out pens with the papers, but since they didn’t, the irresponsible non carrying pen people, like myself, had to ask for a writing utensil from the better prepared people. It took me right back to high school. I have no idea what the piece of paper was for, I heard rumors of a drawing for an autographed basketball, but not from anyone who looked official enough to be trustworthy. I’ll be sure to let you know if I get an informing me I’ve won some type of drawing, though I won’t be holding my breath, or checking my email too frequently.
Once inside I exchanged my slip of paper for a Memphis Hustle sticker, and then walked further into the main concourse and got my free shirt, mission accomplished. I can now go an extra day without doing laundry. Like a cow, I followed the herd of people past the concession stand and through the doors that led to the stadium seats facing the basketball court, where a basketball clinic for kids was currently underway. Around the court were a couple of games for children to play, but secretly wanted to play myself. I instead took a seat looking out at the court, unsure of what was to come next. I’d heard that a couple of Grizzlies players, Andrew Harrison and Wayne Seldon Jr. would be there for a meet and greet, but they must have not arrived yet. I really wanted to get a picture with Andrew Harrison to send to my brother who would probably find it funny given the fact that I constantly lamented his play all season, while my brother defended him and would text me on every single rare occasion where he would make a good play. I felt weird sitting by myself watching a bunch of kids doing layup drills on the court below, and with no Grizzlies players in sight, or anything else of interest, I left Mississippi and came back to Memphis. Was today a complete waste of time? Some of you reading this probably think so, but I’ve got a Memphis Hustle shirt and chances are, you do not, so I’m completely fine with my decision to spend a couple hours of my Saturday driving to Mississippi and back and am looking forward to actually going to a game there in a few months.