Memphis Means More Than Just Another Small Market


What do people think of when they think of Memphis?

Elvis Presley Billboards? Beale Street? Basketball? Ja Morant?

The Grizzlies arrived in Memphis back in 2002. Memphis isn’t the same city as it was back then, and neither is the Grizzlies franchise.

The team was a joke to many fans. Those early days were rough.

After many difficult seasons the Grizzlies found themselves in the Grit & Grind era led by the Core Four: Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The slow-paced, “grind it out” style was difficult to watch at times, but the appreciation from the city for that team was unmatched. Those Memphis teams were tough to play against and opponents often knew they were in for a long night when they came to Grindhouse.

Those are often looked back on as “the good ole days.” 

Then, in 2019, the ping-pong balls fell magically one night for the city of Memphis.

Ja Morant was coming to the Grizzlies.

It was a night every Grizzlies fan will never forget. That first season with Ja on the team we all knew we had something special. Morant was a player that played with heart, tenacity and swagger. He embodied the city of Memphis. 

The city of Memphis will never be known as a city with the likes of New York, Los Angeles, Dallas or even New Orleans. Memphis is the smallest market in the NBA. People don’t move here for the city. 

But who is Memphis, really?

Memphis is family. We might not always act like we like each other, but we always stick up for each other. We may share our dislikes about the city, but if you’re not a Memphian then don’t dare talk about our city. Memphis is the hardest place to leave once you’re here. 


The Grizzlies find themselves on billboards, National TV, SportsCenter and often the topic of conversation with casual fans. Morant jerseys are in every away arena. He’s even in a Spider Man commercial (never saw that coming). These aren’t the same Grizzlies of old.

From the Fly By King to Jitty himself, this team has become the city! 

Memphis is Beale Street.

Memphis is Elvis.

Memphis is Basketball.

Memphis is Grit & Grind.

Memphis can be so much to so many people in so many different ways. Zach Randolph is an Indiana native but he is a Memphian as well. He had the famous quote, “I love this city. They love me back. It’s a blue-collar town, and I’m a blue-collar player, a hard-worker. Nothing’s been given easily to me, and nothing’s been given easily to this town. It’s a fit.” #50ForDaCity

All eyes are on the NBA Playoffs in Memphis and around the world. The time where Memphians flock to the forum from all walks of life. The world will see Memphis as a towel-waving, fan-screaming, loud, rambunctious “Whoop That Trick” place.

Some teams are just teams, but this team is much more. The Grizzlies are Memphis and most won’t understand, but we’re ok with that.

So who is Memphis? 

Memphis is the Grizzlies.

About Daniel Greer

Audio Director for The Lead Sports Media. Contributor for Grizz Lead & Bet The Lead. Host of the Grizz 901 podcast.

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