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SECOND OVERTIME

By Homer D. Sayson


My NBA travels - Pit stop Memphis

PhilBoxing.com
Thu, 08 May 2014



MEMPHIS -- It's the largest city on the mighty Mississippi River, a gem of the South where Elvis Presley made his star and Martin Luther King Jr. met his fate.

This city, the 20th largest in the United States, owns a rich history in music and arts. The 1991 blockbuster movie Silence of the Lambs was shot here, so was the 1997 John Grisham thriller The Rainmaker and the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

It's a culinary haven for people whose taste pines for gastronomic delights such as Southern comfort and soul food. If you ever find your way here, it's a crime to leave without trying the finger-licking, insanely delicious barbecue ribs.

On June 8, 2002, Manny Pacquiao boxed here and emphatically introduced himself to the sports world by defending his IBF super bantamweight title via a second round TKO of Colombian Jorge Elicier Julio.

That bone-jarring encounter was the main undercard of the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson heavyweight mega fight, an event I had the good fortune of covering ringside at the now defunct Pyramid on 1 Auction Avenue in downtown.

Among all other things beautiful, Memphis is also home to the NBA's Grizzlies.

Before meeting their untimely demise in these playoffs, I was able to visit this paradise when the Grizzlies hosted newly-minted MVP Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of their Western Conference quarterfinals at the FedEx Forum.

Better known as the Grindhouse, the Grizzlies home court is one of the loudest in the entire NBA. During the course of the 2013-14 regular season, it welcomed a total of 685,458 paying customers, or 16,718 fans per game for 41 home games.

When I covered Game 6, which the Thunder won -- 104-84 -- before clinching the series in Game 7 in Oklahoma, I sat with 18,119 of my new-found friends. It was the building's 18th consecutive playoffs sellout.

Here in Memphis, the fans cheer for their lovable Grizzlies with a passion, screaming until their lungs collapse. For 48 minutes of basketball, the Grindhouse was a boiling pot of mass hysteria, and even when it became clear that Game 6 was irretrievably lost, few left the arena ahead of the final horn.

The best part of a road trip, they say, is going home. And while I did look forward to the drive back to Chicago, a part of me was yearning to stay, hoping I could have more time to explore this wonderful, exotic city.

The good thing about the NBA is that a next season is always promised.

I'll be back, Memphis..

Photo: PhilBoxing NBA page editor Homer Sayson inside the FedEx Forum, notoriously known as the Grindhouse.



Click here for a complete listing of columns by this author.

Click here for a complete listing of this author's articles from different news sources.

 



 
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