FedEx Forum opened the doors to the sold-out Memphis Madness as early as 6 p.m., and the crowds piled in to see the show and welcome both basketball programs into their seasons.
The entire night was packed with events for all to see: live music, a new court, performances from the Mighty Sound of the South, Pom Squad and cheerleaders. A three-point contest, a slam dunk show, a skills challenge and a scrimmage were all planned to help entertain 18,119 fans.
The night began with scattered appearances from Memphis Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, Memphis legends Chris Douglas-Roberts and Elliot Perry, and a few talented recruits like Jalen Green, Moussa Cisse, Kennedy Chandler and Chris Moore. Fans chanted “We want Jalen!” throughout the night.
The players from the men’s and women’s teams were introduced one-by-one. The athletes walked down the steps of the stands and made their way to the new court. Smoke and spotlights surrounded every member of the team. McFerrin’s crew sported 901 shirts. Penny’s had suits and ties. All personal for both teams had been announced and given a grand entry. However, the crowd was still standing because Hardaway had not emerged.
The lights were dimmed, and a video played detailing his recruiting achievements over the past year. Memories that made headlines were shown. Wiseman’s commitment to the University of Memphis with a unicorn and the Memphis logo, Boogie’s decision to not attend Duke and talk-shows with Memphis as the No. 1 recruiting class next to it. Flashes of the words ‘the best’ and ‘No. 1’ and ‘Memphis’ shared the same sentence.
Then a tall silhouette walked into a lone spotlight; Penny made a grand entrance as he stood on top on a pedestal in the stands. Two cannons of smoke erupted upward, and Hardaway stood center stage for the entire arena. Sporting a hoodie with the words ‘ALL THE SMOKE,’ he stood for what seemed to be an entire minute.
Following everyone’s entrance into the show that is Memphis Madness, the floors cleared and the lights returned. The music appearances began to stun those in attendance. After all the rumors, first to entertain the crowds was Moneybagg Yo and Lil Baby, and they kept the energy in the air as they danced and the stadium rattled with hype.
Wiseman said his favorite performer of the night was Lil Baby.
The attendees could not catch a break as none other than Future stepped in shortly after to keep the party going. Players, fans and coaches were moving all night because energy never died.
Following the skills challenge, three-point shooting contest and the men’s scrimmage, the last mystery guests appeared. When the clock pushed 9 p.m. the lights left once again, and the crowd was ejected from their seats as Young Dolph appeared. The rapper was in charge of the hype for nearly 15 minutes.
Young Dolph was then greeted by rapper and cousin Key Glock and fans once again, could not stay silent. Key Glock backed Dolph as they both shared the spotlight. Key Glock said his goodbyes and Dolph finished the show alone. By 9:25 p.m., the lights returned, the band played the fight song and Forum emptied by the dozens.
Hardaway said when it came to his opinion of which performers would entertain the crowd, he wanted to pick performers everyone would enjoy.
“I knew everybody would like Dolph, Lil Baby and Future,” Hardaway said.