The Memphis Grizzlies have made the 2021-2022 season one of their most groundbreaking seasons yet. Whether that is judged by the number of records they have managed to break this year, or the number of wins they have pocketed, the team of 17 has managed to exceed all expectations set against them and then some.
When it comes to crediting the success of an evolving NBA team like the Grizzlies, there are numerous people who deserve credit. Afterall, it is not a one-man job.
There is the coaching staff, composed of Taylor Jenkins and seven other esteemed assistants. Together they dedicate their everyday lives to perfecting the craft of their athletes. Then, there are the players themselves, of course. It takes skill and determination to wear a jersey and embark on a season that consists of 82 games.
After you’ve named every single employee that contributes to the must-see spectacle taking place in the FedExForum, there still remain thousands of people who deserve recognition for the team’s accomplishments – the fans.
Week after week, viewers tune in to cheer on the only major-league team in Memphis, and with this being one of the most exciting eras for the group, many can recount their most beloved memories and detail what they hope is to come.
Kay and Scott Dawson have a long and loyal relationship with the Grizzlies. They moved to Memphis in 1978 and wasted no time joining the fandom once they transitioned here from Vancouver, Canada in 2001. “We were season ticket holders when they moved into the Forum,” Kay said.
Recently, since the couple has gained more free time, they have become committed to attending every game they can. The two find it thrilling to sit courtside at each matchup, and they thoroughly enjoy the energy inside of the arena.
“The Grizzlies, for the last 20 years that we’ve been going, is one of the rare environments that is inclusive. It doesn’t matter if you are green, yellow, black or white. You are a Grizzlies fan, so everybody gets along which is fun and different,” Scott said.
Being fortunate enough to sit up close comes witnessing first-hand the greatness displayed by the roster. “It’s so exciting,” said Kay, “sometimes it is hard to believe. Like, ‘Did we just do that?’”
That question has more than likely popped into the heads of many throughout the course of the year. So much so, that watchers often refer to the group as a “highlight reel” team, with national broadcasts shifting their schedules to air more Grizzlies games. This can be in reference to the
jaw-dropping dunks, head-spinning steals and well thought-out plays that are administered almost effortlessly in each quarter.
Kyndle Bell, a student at the University of Memphis, can attest to the unbelievable sets she’s witnessed on the court this season.
“The Grizzlies skill and performance amazes me every game. The hard work that each of the players put in is so evident as well as the love that they have for the sport itself,” the 20-year-old said.
Born and raised in the city, the communications major appreciates the acknowledgment that the small market team is bringing to the area.
“I would describe this season,” said Bell, “as one where they each received the recognition that they deserved. A lot of times Memphis as a city is overlooked, but we are now on people’s radar.”
Another season ticket holder, Bob Keskey, is seeking the benefits of the Grizzlies location. Keskey is the owner of Ghost River Brewing, a local brewery with two locations throughout the city. One of his sites sits directly beside the Forum.
“Beale Street was the motivation behind opening this, but the team is a definite plus,” Keskey said. “On weekend games, the place is packed.”
The businessman has been a ticket holder for eight years and is still blown away by how well the team continues to play.
His hopes for the postseason are clear. “We probably can beat anybody,” he said. While he would love for the team to win the whole series, he does not feel that it is necessary as the group has accomplished a lot this season. That fact alone contributes to his biggest memory from this year.
“Seeing us go from, what was thought to be by everybody, a building year to being – we’re it. We’re not building anymore – we’re built. We’ve arrived,” Keskey said proudly.
With the regular season over, and the second seed in the Western Conference clinched, the Grizzlies are able to claim the Southwest Division title for themselves, a first for the franchise. Ja Morant became the second Grizzly to start in an All-Star game. Jaren Jackson Jr. now holds the franchise record for most blocks in a single season. Desmond Bane set the Grizzlies record for most three-pointers made in a season in his sophomore season.
All of that led to tickets for the first two playoff games – which went on sale April 9 – flying out of stock the same day, meaning the FedExForum is likely going to be packed from top-to-bottom in blue.
As the Grizzlies began to heat up during the 2021-2022 season, and COVID restrictions began to loosen, fans started to flood the FedExForum for games to see one of the hottest, young teams in the NBA.