Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grizzlies Update

If you live in the US, you know that the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team is in the play-offs against the Oklahoma City Thunder right now.  In order to win the series, we need just need to win one more of the final two remaining games.  If we win the next game tonight in Oklahoma City, we won't even need to play the final game.

As you may or may not know, Oklahoma City is my hometown, so I typically dread these games.  It's like my Facebook news updates are on fire, with friends in both cities writing about it and posting photos non-stop. 

The question I'm often asked (and you may be thinking) is which team I root for.  Let me put it this way - I've now lived in Memphis for about 10 years.  I moved away from Oklahoma in the late 90's. The Thunder relocated to OKC about 5 years ago.  As much as I love Oklahoma, Grizzlies have just been my team for longer than OKC has had a team.  In fact, they moved to Memphis the year I did, in 2001, and a number of the players have live in my neighborhood.  In fact, I believe Shane Battier lived in my building at one time, years ago.


Anyway, now that we have that out of the way, on to the story...


Sunday night, I went to workout at my gym downtown.  On the way home, I passed by the Westin and thought about how much I've been wanting to have the mac & cheese at Bleu.  It's one of my favorites in Memphis, and I hadn't had it for about 2 months.  I pulled up to the Westin and asked the valet if the restaurant was closed.  To my surprise, it was open!  I went inside and pulled up a seat at the bar where I ate a mac & cheese and drank a Ghost River beer (our local beer here in Memphis, brewed just a few blocks from my house).

A very energetic New Yorker sat down next to me.  He was in Memphis for work, and had heard only bad things from the locals.  Everyone had told him that the city was boring and that there was just nothing to do, so he hadn't ventured out.

To make matters worse, he works for the NBA.  He was here for the play-off game.  I felt bad that all of the locals had given him such a negative impression.  I talked to him for a while, and ended up taking him for a mini Memphis tour on Monday before the big game.

I picked him up at the Westin around lunch time on Monday.  We drove down Madison to see many downtown shops and the medical district on our way to The BBQ Shop.  My friend Eric met us there.  The BBQ Shop is his family's business, and he gave us the VIP treatment.  He sat down with us to tell us all about the menu, and give us some history (and positive things to say) about the city.  Thanks Eric for your help, and for always being so positive.

After lunch, I drove my new friend back downtown to check out the view from the top of the Madison Hotel.  The Madison is a boutique hotel in Memphis.  They recently renovated their rooftop bar.  The new roof looks amazing, and of course has a wonderful view of the Mississippi River. 

I had to take my new friend back in time for the game, but I think that he may have changed his mind about the city in just a few hours.  As a reminder to everyone-- every city has its faults.  When you're traveling on business or on vacation, you're looking for a few bright spots.  It doesn't do them any good to hear about the long list of things you don't like.  As someone who lives in the city, take the opportunity to share those bright spots with the visitors you meet. These details are the ones that are really helpful to someone who's traveling.

Special thanks to everyone who helped out with ideas on things to do, including Eric Vernon, Paul Morris, Eric Mathews,  Devin D., and Krista E. 


After dropping off my friend, I headed home.  An hour later, I was hosting friends on my roof for pre-playoff-game mojitos using the fresh mint from my garden.  About 10 people or so came up.  The weather was perfect, and the drinks were good too.  It was really nice to see everyone and to reconnect.  We should definitely do it more often, and use as much mint as the garden will produce!


The next stop was the FedEx Forum.  I had planned to watch the game from a bar downtown, but a very thoughtful friend had given me two free tickets just a few hours before.  August and I went for what was one of the best and hardest games of the season. 

We were down by quite a bit at first. Then we recovered and the score went back and fourth for quite a while.  We would be up by one and then they would.  Eventually, we won in overtime. 

August and I were both so happy to go to the game in person.  It was also nice to be there with friends.  A number of friends were all over the arena including Cindy who was 3 rows back from us, a high school friend, Jamie, who had driven in from Oklahoma City to cheer on the Thunder, and my friend from Singapore (it was his first NBA game ever!).


After the game, we headed to a local pub called Bardog where I destroyed (quite literally) a club sandwich and a beer.  We saw many of the folks who are going through the current Seed Hatchery incubator, my friend from Singapore, Freddie, and Prasad.  Freddie had just landed in the Memphis airport from Norway.  He's such a good sport that he came right out to meet us.

It was great to see everyone.  It was definitely a successful day for Memphis!

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