Memphis was almost wiped off the map by a yellow fever epidemic in 1878. You can't live here very long without hearing that story recounted. But if you've been keeping up with the exploits of the local professional basketball franchise, there’s a new epidemic threatening to wipe Memphis’ basketball team off the map: injuries.
The Grizzlies have so many players injured they’ve had to sign four players from the NBA’s D-League (the Development League, basically the basketball version of AAA baseball) to 10-day contracts just to have enough guys in uniform to realistically play an NBA game, let alone win one. It’s not great.
The guys missing games right now aren’t just back-of-the-bench scrubs, either:
- Marc Gasol is out for the year.
- Mike Conley is out at least 3-4 weeks, but possibly the rest of the year.
- Brandan Wright is out indefinitely.
- Zach Randolph has a sore knee and is just listed as “out.”
- Mario Chalmers ruptured his Achilles tendon — a devastating injury, and also one that left the Grizzlies without a point guard — and then had to be waived from the roster so a player could be signed to play in his stead.
- Chris Andersen, alias “Birdman,” alias “Grizzilla,” subluxed his shoulder and is out indefinitely.
- Jordan Adams has been out most of the year and no one seems to know whether he’ll return.
- In the last games, both Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson have been out, though there’s a possibility both will play tonight against Minnesota.
There are normally 15 spots on an NBA roster. Counting Carter and Stephenson, that’s nine injured players, eight of whom are still on the team. So…
… that’s where you come in.
There’s obviously something going on in FedExForum that’s causing these injuries. I don’t know if it’s been cursed by some sort of black magic, or it’s built on a sacred Native American burial ground, or if the Los Angeles Clippers are leaching something into the water designed to make bones break and ligaments sprain, but something is in the air at 191 Beale, and you shouldn’t breathe too much of it in. Herewith, my five safety tips to avoid being injured while at a Grizzlies game, in light of current circumstances.
- Do not participate in any BattleBallz event. They haven’t done many of these this year, but I have participated in such an event before and it’s a miracle I wasn’t maimed. That the headline of that article is “Former NFL back obliterates local writer” (one of my life’s true accomplishments to date) should tell you a little about how it went — I'm the "local writer," not the "former NFL back."
- Stretch appropriately before jumping up to scream at the referee. Grizzlies fans love to holler at officials, telling them all sorts of vile things about themselves that, in their dark moments of reflection, maybe the refs know to be true, but I doubt it. If you’re going to do that, in light of the injury-inducing factors at play in the arena, I’d recommend that you do a good 5-10 minutes of light stretching of your legs (hamstrings, quads, etc.) so when the time comes, you can leap to your feet and start cursing like a soccer mom in traffic without fear of pulling a muscle. Maybe do some breathing exercises, too. Not so you can yell louder, but so you can keep a better handle on the inchoate rage bubbling just below your baby blue Sam Young jersey.
- Don’t do the wave. Just don’t. I don’t think you’ll get hurt doing it, but you still just shouldn’t do it.
- Don’t guard Zach Randolph in the post. It’s unlikely that you’ll find yourself in this position, but who knows, maybe some sort of weird Rudy scenario takes place and you have to pick up some minutes at the 4 or 5 for the Grizzlies’ opponents. You will not win this battle, unless you are taller than 6’10" and heavier than about 270. Even then, you probably will not win this battle. You will more than likely be bodied out of the way, or, more probably, flat-out trampled. Just say no.
- Spend more time on Beale Street after the game than before. We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at Silky O’Sullivan’s trying to get ready (“ready”) for a playoff game, and suddenly it’s time to walk across Third to the arena and you aren’t sure whether your feet are still connected to your body. You stumble to the terrace level where you’re sitting and slump down and fall asleep during the quarter breaks. My recommendation would be to put off the foot-disconnection phase of the celebrations until after the basketball game ends. The Forum has lots of stairs, and if you’re tumbling down them, each will injure you in its own special way.
Stay safe out there, Grizzlies fans. And maybe don’t drink the water.