When the Memphis Grizzlies take the floor of the FedExForum on Thursday night, the buzz from the Game 2 victory in Oklahoma City will have given way to the delirium of hosting Game 3 knotted at a game apiece.
The Game 2 overtime win was a battle that few could argue was not an instant classic. And the bulk of those who would proffer such a position most likely live in Oklahoma and live and die with Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder.
In the Bluff City, however, there is no doubt. The 111-105 victory was monstrously rewarding and oh, so unforgettable, at least for Grizz fans. The Memphis players, however, don't have the luxury of dwelling on a memory. You can't beat super-All Star Durant with a memory.
The recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision granting Northwestern University football players the right to unionize, if upheld, will shatter the NCAA's business model.
It is safe to say that we are at the dawn of a new era in college sports when we add these elements to the mix:
• The frontal attack launched a few days before by noted antitrust lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, accusing the NCAA of colluding to deprive athletes of the ability to earn more than the value of their scholarships.
• The pending lawsuit challenging the NCAA rule that bars players from earning money from the use of their images.
On Wednesday night in FedExForum, Memphis' Grizzlies clawed and clawed until the clock ran out in overtime. It took every ounce of that regular season-ending effort to beat the Dallas Mavericks and snatch the seventh seed in the NBA's Western Conference Playoffs.
With the clock frozen at 1.1 seconds left to play, starting point guard Mike Conley sank two free throws. The second gave the Grizzlies a one-point lead (101-105) that survived a Dallas last-second heave that came uncomfortably close to making Memphis an eighth seed.
What's the big deal about finishing seventh rather than eighth? Well, it means not having to play the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs that look and play like world-beaters as the grind to the NBA Finals is set to get underway later this week.
It's still the offseason for retired NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
The 32-year-old former All-Pro announced his retirement in December after 11 seasons in the NFL, but he doesn't miss the game yet.
He's been focusing his energies on his foundation and providing new experiences and college visits for at-risk high school students from low-income communities.
Five games in nine days during the longest road trip of the season warranted a day off for the Grizzlies on Thursday, the day before they took the court at the FedExForum to tangle with the Denver Nuggets.
By halftime it was clear the Grizzlies needed a wakeup call. Looking tired, sluggish and bearing faint resemblance to a team battling for a playoff spot, Memphis trailed 47-43 at the break before awakening in the third quarter and holding on for a 100-92 victory.
Memphis started off strong, grabbing a lead that stood at 24-18 at the end of the first quarter. The Grizz crowd of 17,011 responded accordingly but fell noticeably quiet as the Nuggets, who are mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt, played inspired basketball. After Kenneth – the "Manimal" – Faried's layup tied the game at 28-28, the Nuggets unleashed a run that netted a 47-43 halftime advantage.
ESPN radio host and TV commentator Stephen A. Smith told Arsenio Hall on his talk show over the weekend that Kobe Bryant was "right on point" in his assessment that he wasn't comfortable with Miami Heat players protesting in support of Trayvon Martin without knowing all of the facts.
Bryant was quoted in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker as saying: "I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African American," he reportedly said. " ... If something happens to an African American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well, we've progressed as a society, then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African American."
Smith said that while it is clear that black people are "outnumbered" in society, that doesn't give them a "license to be unfair." He added that people needed to "exercise a level of fairness and justice."
March Madness in the form of the NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Championship in Memphis turned into a coronation for the Florida Gators.
The nation's No. 1 ranked team coming into the tournament, Florida – the SEC regular season and tournament champions – beat back the Dayton Flyers 62-52 at the FedExForum on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Gators learned they would take on UConn of the American Athletic Conference in a battle to see which of the teams will get to play for the national championship on April 7th in East Texas. In the other national seminal, Kentucky will take Wisconsin.