Children's smiles, fidgets and careful steps greeted me last Sunday (May 26) at the Orange Mound Community Center (OMCC) Athletic Appreciation Banquet.
A number of children and their families walked into the ballroom at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis full of anticipation. They came to celebrate the theme, "Hard Work Pays Off".
The children (ages five to 16) had worked hard, on and off the court. Extended family and surrogate mothers and fathers were all in the mix ready for the celebration. The pride was evident.
For the past month or so, Memphis, and perhaps the entire Mid-South has been on a fantastic ride called the Grizzlies 2013 Playoff run! It was as thrilling as any carnival ride ever brought to the Delta or Mid-South fairs, wrought with ups, downs, twists and turns. There were comebacks from two games down, overtime victories, overtime losses, dagger threes and powerfully throw down dunks, thrilling victories and disappointing defeats.
Through it all something great happened.
Born was something more exciting, more potentially impactful and certainly more important – this community came together, embraced its identity and stood proudly on the world stage exclaiming, "We Believe!" and "We Don't Bluff" as we "Whooped" every "Trick" the opposition threw at us (at least until the San Antonio series, where the Spurs opened up a can of whoop trick on us.)
"It's painful to watch," said Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.
"It's an awful situation that we're in," Grizz guard Tony Allen said.
Those were responses after Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, which marked the ninth playoff ever for the Grizzlies. The team was hoping to make history. They wanted to defeat the Spurs in Game 4 to keep the run going. They wanted to win Games 5 and 6 and 7 to move on to battle for a championship.
There will be no miracle on Beale Street. At least not the one that Memphis Grizzlies faithful had hoped – even if ever so faintly – would begin Monday night with a Game 4 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at the FedExForum.
Teams that have led 3-0 in a seven-game series in the NBA Playoffs have never lost (107-0). Grit and grind loyalists believed. But it was just wishful thinking.
The Western Conference Finals victory – a well-earned one – went to the San Antonio Spurs 93-86, who now advance to the 2013 Finals against the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the defending champion Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. The win secured San Antonio's fifth Western Conference title and their second sweep of the 2013 Playoffs.
University of Memphis rising sophomore Shaq Goodwin has accepted an invitation to attend the 2013 USA Basketball Men's U19 World Championship Team training camp June 14-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC), the USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team Committee announced Wednesday.
Players selected after training camp will represent the United States at FIBA U19 World Championship June 27-July 7 in Prague, Czech Republic.
If Goodwin is selected, it would be the fifth-straight year a Tiger played on a Team USA squad. Goodwin played for the U18 team in 2012 and joined Joe Jackson (U19, 2011) and Adonis Thomas (U17, 2010; U16, 2009) in representing the U.S. in international competition.
When I heard that a golfer had made a "joke" about Tiger Woods and fried chicken, I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't 1997 all over again.
"That was the year Frank "Fuzzy: Zoeller was asked for his thoughts about Woods' impending success at the Masters, and he joked about Woods serving "fried chicken" or "collard greens" to celebrate his win. The remark cost Zoeller his primary sponsor, Kmart, and will likely overshadow his athletic successes in his obituary some day.
Yet despite what the comment cost Zoeller, another golfer just made a similar one. Here's hoping bad '90s fashion doesn't come roaring back with the same vengeance as bad '90s racial humor.
Writing in the Huffington Post, columnist Mikah Meyer makes the case for Memphis being a rooting-favorite to win an NBA Championship.
"I will not claim to be a native son of Memphis. No, the four years I spent living there during college were not enough to qualify me a natural Memphian, but it was enough to give me a love for Memphis that bounds like the mighty Mississippi."