- Category: News
24 Mar 2011
- Written by Kelley Evans
Special to Tri-State Defender
The NCAA is not the only place where March Madness is taking the basketball world by storm. NBA teams are fighting to make the playoffs and the Grizzlies fans have jumped on the bandwagon with their team on the march to secure a spot.
Grizz fans may not be coming out in record numbers but they are consistent and they send a message to other teams, officials and coaches that, in the FedEx Forum, fans will be seen and heard.
They “boo” officials off the court when questionable calls are made. They “boo” opposing players at the free-throw line. They gasp in concern if a player is injured. They cheer to no end if a Grizz player dunks. And they participate in cheers during timeouts.
Memphis fans are shaking up the joint and the roar of the crowd hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Whether it’s 10,000, 12,000 or a sell-out of 18,000, fans at any given home game are electric. Fans are clearly showing players and the Grizzlies organization that they want to root this team to the playoffs. And, at this late date of the season, they are in it to win it.
| Tony Allen comes up with a steal against the Indiana Pacers, one of many moves that Allen and the Grizz are making as they build fan support during their playoff run. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)|
For starts, the Grizzlies totaled a season-high 33 assists against Utah. Three reserve players, O.J. Mayo, Darrell Arthur and Hamed Haddadi all scored in double figures. O.J. Mayo scored on three, three-point shots. Tony Allen had a couple of dunks that sent the crowd into a frenzy, along with Sam Young whose fast break points brought fans to their feet.
Allen has stepped into the role of team cheerleader. He stands on the sideline cheering teammates to victory. His passion is infectious. As the rest of the team draws on his enthusiasm, momentum builds.
The fan presence is on the radar of players and now they are weighing in.
Zach Randolph, who has been a game-changer for the team, said fans make a huge contribution. “The crowd is being real great,” Randolph said. “We need them. They’re a big part of this and a big part of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to get.”
Newcomer Leon Powe has been a crowd pleaser of late. With the absence of Rudy Gay fans have been talking in the stands about his strength.
“The fans here are great,” Powe said. “It feels good to hear that. I feel good when I get out there. Coach is starting to work me in the rotation a little bit. I try to go out there and play the game and play with my teammates.”
He said of his strength, “I’ve been doing this for a little bit. I’ve always been pretty strong. Everybody thought I was lifting weights before the game. I don’t do any of that. It just comes natural. That’s how I’ve been since high school. I just bully my way through.”
In the upcoming weeks, fans plan to give it their best shot and hopefully give the team a push into the postseason.