I admit this is a bit of a belated post. I originally was going to write about my recent Grizzlies away game experience last week, but things (procrastination) got in the way. On March 1st and 3rd, I attended two of the Grizzlies away games. The Heat game in Miami and the Magic game in Orlando.
Although the Grizzlies lost to the Heat in Miami, I still enjoyed seeing a close game. The Grizz shut LeBron down for the majority of the game and played great defense. The American Airlines Arena was nice, and there was a large portion of it set up to cater to VIPs. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It’s just an observation. I wasn’t heckled by the Heat fans at all. We (my brothers and I) were fairly respectful, but we did cheer loudly for most of the game. My little brother actually yelled at one of the Grizz players for messing up on a play. It was a little awkward when I realized we were sitting behind said player’s significant other. However she was very gracious to him anyway after seeing he was wearing a Grizzlies jersey. (Whew!)
The Heat fans were very loud when their team was on offense but were fairly quiet when it came to anything else going on during the game. The refs weren’t booed much, but the Heat fans rarely had a reason to boo them. They didn’t get very riled up over defense, turnovers, player line ups, or their own players effort. That was one of the biggest differences I noticed between Grizzlies fans and Heat fans.
Memphians are VERY serious when it comes to the game of basketball. We expect a lot from our players on both sides of the court. If a Grizz player tries to showboat and we aren’t blowing the other team out, you will most definitely hear fans chastise him for it. We’d rather see a smart play than a flashy play. Most serious Grizz fans remind of a dad who is frustrated with his kid’s performance. “You said you were going to work on those free throws, Ed! Get it together!” But just like a dad, we also beam with pride when we know that our team gave one hundred percent out there. The Miami Heat fans reminded me more of an Aunt who always brings you gifts but knows very little about your life. I realize not ALL Miami fans are this way. That was just my take on the overall response of the crowd. I was proud to see several Grizzlies fans there. We have come a long way!
As for Orlando, I have to say that the Amway Center is by far the nicest arena I have ever visited. Everything about it was five-star. From displays in the arena to the retired #6 jersey (The fans are the 6th man.) it was clear that the Magic appreciate their fans. We weren’t heckled in Orlando either. In fact, there were a lot of Grizz fans at the game. Near the end of the game, I actually heard a “Let’s Go Grizzlies!!” chant break out. We got a lot of fist bumps, head nods, cheers and pats on the back from other Grizz fans at both games. The Memphis Grizzlies fan base is like a (crazy but lovable) family to me and all of the fans we encountered seemed to feel the same way.
Visiting the other arenas has made me appreciate the people behind the scenes during Grizzlies games even more. I want to give a shout out to every person on the Grizzlies/FedExForum staff who work so hard to create an amazing experience for the fans. The “Grindhouse” is one of my favorite places to be, and it is because of the all the work that is put in by a team of dedicated people. They always make it worth my time and money. There really is “no place like home”!
A few random things:
- The Miami Heat’s Jumbotron graphics looked like they came from a 1998 version of Print Shop. I still haven’t figured out why the team with the best record and top player in the NBA still uses graphics that are similar to “clip art”.
- Before the game started, Dwayne Wade walked around to every side of the court and got the crowd to get loud. He reminded me of “The Rock” hyping up the fans before a wrestling match. I actually thought it was pretty cool. Well… if it had been Zbo or Tony Allen I would have thought it was cool.
- A big thumbs down to the Miami Heat for putting large ads on the screen while the players were shooting free throws. I’m okay with ads being on a separate screen, but it should not be beside Lebron’s head on the main screen.
- The Orlando Magic had an awesome Jumbotron, and they put the crowd on it often. They did something called the “Oblivious Cam” where they would put a person/couple/group on the screen and have a timer tick down to see if they could be on the screen for an entire minute without noticing.
- Neither the Miami Heat or the Orlando Magic had dancing Grannies and Grandpas. However, the Magic did have the “Dancing Dads”. They were a group of middle-aged men that performed a dance routine during one of the timeouts.