Monday, September 15, 2008

NBA Stadium Blog Day: FedExForum

By Joshua Coleman

The following is part of Jones on the NBA's celebration of NBA Stadium Blog Day.

The FedExForum. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, it doesn't have the cache of Boston Garden, Madison Square Garden or the Fabulous Forum that was home to the Los Angeles Lakers for so many years. After all, it is barely 4 years old, so how much history could it have?

I have gone through many sports/entertainment arenas in my lifetime in Memphis, from the Mid-South Coliseum to the Pyramid to the shiny new Forum. Each of them holds a special place in my heart, but there is absolutely no doubt that the Forum is one of the most amazing arenas in the world today. From the wide concourses full of local flavor and history to the great sightlines of the court, it is the kind of place that every hoops fan wishes their team played in. When you factor in the great restaurants to dine in before or during the game, it makes you wonder if you could just live there for a few weeks each season.

Last year was devoid of many bright spots, but every Grizzlies fan remembers Rudy Gay's shot at the buzzer that sank the hated Spurs in December.

In similar fashion, there are other memorable moments that stand out in my mind. A game against the Denver Nuggets when the team was already without Pau Gasol....and then Bonzi Wells gets kicked out in the first half. That led to Brian Cardinal (Brian Freakin' Cardinal!!!) putting the team on his back and nearly leading them to a victory. Or who can forget the night that Chauncey Billups had to use every last trick in the bag to pull out an overtime victory for the visiting Detroit Pistons? Or watching unheralded, undrafted rookie Tarence Kinsey hassle Allen Iverson to the point of exasperation in a game that meant little to the Grizzlies (who ultimately won), but had playoff positioning implications for the Nuggets two seasons ago? How about the "out of nowhere" game that 10-day contract signee Bobby Jones had against the Sonics last season that put him on the map, albeit briefly, as he was a madman on both ends of the court?

Of course, there are also the gut-wrenching moments that I'd rather forget. The first playoff game against the Phoenix Suns, coming after a nail-biting Game 2 that Memphis should have won. Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks the next year -- so close to that first playoff victory before Dirk Nowitzki went absolutely unconscious and buried our hopes and dreams. The numerous home openers that the Grizzlies have lost in a variety of ways, from Triple OT (Knicks) to facing 8-man squads (Wizards). But through it all, the Forum has been a great place to soak in the NBA atmosphere. 41 times a year, there's virtually no place I'd rather be from late October through April.

So I encourage all of you in the Mid-South area to come out to the FedExForum and support the Memphis Grizzlies. You'll get a chance to make some memories of your own.

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