The Memphis Grizzlies’ regular season has come to an end but the spirit of thanksgiving rolls on. As the team heads into the first round of the playoffs, the players decided to throw a party to say thanks to season ticket holders.
| After face painting, Marresse Speights stops to sign an autograph and snap a photo with a young fan. (Photos by Kelley Evans)
| Coach Lionel Hollins
Annually for the past five years, Carly Knight, manager of promotions for the Memphis Grizzlies, has planned the event.
“The whole point of it is to say thank you to our fans,” Knight said.
Whether playing golf, batting balls, eating or mingling in the crowd, it wasn’t hard to spot any player of choice. The mini-golf course was filled with children putting with Tony Allen. Children chased Quincy Pondexter, shooting him with water until he was soaked and needed to change clothes. Rookie Josh Selby walked around as a photographer, snapping candid photos of the crowd and randomly ordering fans to pose for snapshots. Newcomer Marresse Speights took pictures with fans and signed autographs. Zach Randolph appeased mobs of fans, while Rudy Gay manned the photo and autograph table.
Camera in tow, Pondexter said, “It’s fun to come out here with the fans who support us through thick and thin,” Pondexter said. “I never knew things like this existed. The fans have been telling me how much they appreciate me being here and how much they love my game. It made me feel really good about being here. I love the fans and I love this city.”
Gay said he enjoys interacting with the fans every year. “This event means a lot because it’s not about us, it’s about the fans.”
Speights, who said he was surprised by the large turnout, said “I’m getting a lot of love out here.”
O.J. Mayo is no stranger to thanking Grizz fans for their support, posing for pictures and engaging fans in conversation during the two-hour event. “It’s good to come out and have fun with the fans, get to talk and socialize a little bit,” he said.
On the miniature golf course not far from Allen, Head Coach Lionel Hollins was talking competitive golf trash to his opponent for the day, pausing for pictures and autographs.
“This is an opportunity to give back to the fans,” Hollins said. “It gives them a chance to get face-to-face with the coaches and players because when they come to the arena a lot of the people are not very close because we’re working.”