Spencer Hall May Be from Out of Town, but He Gets Us

Posted by Holly Whitfield | May 30th 2013 2143 0

It's been a few days since SB Nation published Spencer Hall's fantastic account of what it was like to be in Memphis for the last Grizzlies game, but I can't stop reading it.

By @katie_joy5 via Instagram

(Photo by @katie_joy5 via Instagram)

I've read it once a day since it came out, pulling it up on my phone constantly to read excerpts from it to friends, family and random strangers. Not only is it a great write up of the rough ending to our incredible season, it's also one of the best pieces of writing about Memphis I've ever read, period. Somehow, Hall, an outsider, captures exactly what our city is about with reverence, respect and humor. He never makes fun, never patronizes or belittles as he describes exactly what the Grizzlies mean to the city. He gets us. 

Here are a few of the best parts:

On the Clippers: 

"Before the Thunder, the Grizzlies had literally choked out the L.A. Clippers, or at least Blake Griffin, writhing on the ground in a scrum with Zach Randolph, and Zach Randolph's hand on his throat. Yes, that was the team I so badly want you to admire here: the one with the player who, in a moment of passion, may have checked the structural integrity of Blake Griffin's larynx with his very large, very strong hand. In most other places, that's an act of villainy. In Memphis, Zach Randolph is the hero and Blake Griffin's neck merely got in the way of important business."

On why the Grizz are so lovable:

"That's why the Grizzlies were so specifically lovable this season. For once, this really was a team indistinguishable from their city in the best and worst possible senses. They won games without having a defined, go-to premium scorer, scrapping out wins with a mix of violence, frantic hustle and, yes, at times outright theft. Their arena has the loudest subwoofers I've ever heard indoors. Their ring announcer — and that is the right term here — has a side hustle at a church, and yet really does sound like he could be introducing Britney on the main stage. Tony Allen eats by himself at a Cracker Barrel all the time, where the staff jokingly calls him "LeBron."

On a fan's Z-bo Fathead:

"There had to be room for a little shoulder shake and an awestruck nod at the tiny suburban white girl on the mezzanine level of the Grindhouse, waving a giant cardboard cutout of Zach Randolph's mean mug like the face of a feared but beloved dictator, beaming like a miniature sun some 80-feet over street level in Memphis, Tennessee."

And this:

"The franchise itself is a retread, bought off the sale rack at the NBA's thrift store from Vancouver, a place that might be the polar opposite of everything Memphis is. This is the bootleg t-shirt franchise. It landed in a very bootleg t-shirt city, and the rest is the weird, happy history leading to this point."

Thank you, Spencer Hall. I don't know you, but I'll buy you a beer next time you're in town. 

If you haven't read the article yet, what are you waiting for?


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Keith W. says:

    Spencer got us.  Need more writers on the National level that can get that level of understanding.

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