Ever since the Grizzlies packed up and moved from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001 they’ve been an easy fit for the NBA schedule on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Memphis is of course tragically linked at the hip with MLK because Memphis is where the civil rights leader was assassinated. Other than Hawks (King was born and lived in Atlanta), no other team can claim any more symbolic tie to King than the Grizzlies.
That said, Memphis’ home matchup with the Chicago Bulls on January 17th of this coming season should be a very competitive one filled with some of the league’s top young players. Last season the Grizzlies finished with a 40-42 record which is just 1 game under .500. This season they’ll bring back forward Zack Randolph(20.8ppg, 11.7rpg), forward Rudy Gay(19.6ppg), and guard OJ Mayo(17.5ppg, 3apg), all of whom are considered a part of the Grizzlies core.
On the other hand, Chicago did make the playoffs last season and gave the LeBron James Cavaliers a run for their money. Last year’s playoff run was considered a coming out party for the Bulls dynamic duo of Derrick Rose (Memphis Tiger star) and Joakim Noah. Now, add to the mix all-star caliber forward Carlos Boozer and folks you’ve got one heck of a hoop squad.
To be fair, it must be pointed out that the NBA is offering up a few other games on MLK Day that may grab the hoop fans attention. Tyreke Evans (another Memphis Tiger stand out) will lead the Sacramento Kings into Atlanta to play the Hawks at 3pm on NBA TV. For a night cap, TNT will have a doubleheader featuring Orlando at Boston at 7pm, followed by Oklahoma City at Los Angles Lakers at 9:30pm.
True, the Lakers, Thunder, Magic, and Celtics have more marquee appeal than the Grizzlies, but, don’t sell the 12noon tip between Memphis and Chicago short. Both teams could make the 2011 NBA Playoffs with Chicago being as high as a 2nd seed in the East (you read that prediction here first folks) while the Grizz could sneak in as a 7 or 8 out West. Heck, even if only Chicago makes the playoffs I still think this game is one worth waking up a little early on a holliday (don’t front, those that don’t work on MLK Day sleep in) to watch.
About the Author
Written by Jason Lee
Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, I've been a sports fan probably since I was about 9 years old! A 2002 graduate of Mount Union College (Alliance, OH), I've had the opportunity to cover some great high school football on the radio in both Ohio (working with WHBC in Canton) and in West Virginia (I currently work with Bristol Broadcasting in Charleston). I also keep an on-line journal/blogs on my own website.