Five games in nine days during the longest road trip of the season warranted a day off for the Grizzlies on Thursday, the day before they took the court at the FedExForum to tangle with the Denver Nuggets.
By halftime it was clear the Grizzlies needed a wakeup call. Looking tired, sluggish and bearing faint resemblance to a team battling for a playoff spot, Memphis trailed 47-43 at the break before awakening in the third quarter and holding on for a 100-92 victory.
Memphis started off strong, grabbing a lead that stood at 24-18 at the end of the first quarter. The Grizz crowd of 17,011 responded accordingly but fell noticeably quiet as the Nuggets, who are mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt, played inspired basketball. After Kenneth – the "Manimal" – Faried's layup tied the game at 28-28, the Nuggets unleashed a run that netted a 47-43 halftime advantage.
ESPN radio host and TV commentator Stephen A. Smith told Arsenio Hall on his talk show over the weekend that Kobe Bryant was "right on point" in his assessment that he wasn't comfortable with Miami Heat players protesting in support of Trayvon Martin without knowing all of the facts.
Bryant was quoted in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker as saying: "I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African American," he reportedly said. " ... If something happens to an African American, we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society? Well, we've progressed as a society, then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African American."
Smith said that while it is clear that black people are "outnumbered" in society, that doesn't give them a "license to be unfair." He added that people needed to "exercise a level of fairness and justice."
March Madness in the form of the NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Championship in Memphis turned into a coronation for the Florida Gators.
The nation's No. 1 ranked team coming into the tournament, Florida – the SEC regular season and tournament champions – beat back the Dayton Flyers 62-52 at the FedExForum on Saturday.
On Sunday, the Gators learned they would take on UConn of the American Athletic Conference in a battle to see which of the teams will get to play for the national championship on April 7th in East Texas. In the other national seminal, Kentucky will take Wisconsin.
Mitchell High School put a big time whippin' on Meigs County, decisively affixing its stamp on the TSSAA Division 1 Class A Boys Basketball State Championship with a 56-27 thump'n.
On Saturday (March 29th), two weeks after the Tigers captured the Southwest Memphis school's first state basketball title, a community celebration will unfold. A parade and a string of speakers – community leaders, previous coaches, former players – will add energy to an experience that already has so many feeling like they are floating on air.
Coach Faragi Phillips engineered the title in his third year at Mitchell.
The New York Jets signed star quarterback Michael Vick on Friday for a reported one-year, $5-million deal; however, animal rights group PETA, who seemingly still holds a grudge against the NFL player as a result of his 2007 conviction for dog-fighting, sent out a tweet upon hearing the news about the signing that clearly shows they are not quite over the nearly seven-year incident, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"At least Michael Vick can't drown, electrocute, hang, or shoot a football the way he terrorized man's best friend."
Vick's younger brother, Marcus, came to his sibling's defense on Saturday, tweeting a response to PETA's jab at his big brother asking the Norfolk, Virginia-based organization if it was "still on that (BS)."
Perhaps it was inevitable. As the first openly gay athlete in a major professional sport, some believed it was a matter of when, not if, Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins would be subjected to prejudice from his peers.
According to the New York Daily News, Collins has endured some homophobic taunting from one of his fellow players.
"One player, one knucklehead from another team," Collins told the Daily News. "He's a knucklehead. So I just let it go. Again, that goes back to controlling what you can control. That's how I conduct myself just being professional."
Starting in the middle of March every year, America's attention is focused squarely on March Madness. Sports – and non-sports fans alike – are tuned in to every bit of news around the tournament in hopes it leads to lucrative bracket paydays.
And in the middle of March each year, there's another story that doesn't get nearly the same attention as the tournament. This week, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida issued its annual report examining the graduation rates of all of the schools participating in the tournament.