The Memphis Grizzlies have been a playoff fixture in the Western Conference since 2011, when they beat the San Antonio Spurs in a first-round upset and established themselves as a perennial threat. The Grit ‘N Grind crew’s emergence, unsurprisingly, has led to epic playoff battles every spring. The Grizzlies’ most common and contentious postseason foes of this era? Undoubtedly the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. Memphis has squared-off with Oklahoma City in three of the past four springs, and met LA’s best team twice over that same timeframe.
So many hotly contested games over a short period of time inevitably yields dislike between two teams, and the Grizzlies are no exception with the Thunder and Clippers. Memphis is cleverly playing up that mutual animosity in 2014-2015 by hosting pointed promotional giveaways when the teams of Kevin Durant and Chris Paul come to town.
Debuting this season, Grizzlies Wrestling Belts will be given to the first 3,000 fans at the Jan. 31 matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder as a part of Wrestling Night. Grizzlies Flip Flops will be handed out to the first 5,000 fans at the Feb. 27 game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Grizzlies haven’t said either giveaway is anything more than happy coincidence, but it’s not hard to read between the lines. Recent match-ups between Memphis and OKC have harkened back to physical days of the 1990s, and the Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams are as much to blame as any other player on each roster. Free wrestling belts poke fun at the oft brash playing style of the OKC big men.
The giveaway for the Clippers is even better, and needs no explanation. Flip-flops. Whether you agree with broad notion that Paul and Blake Griffin embellish contact more than other players or not, it’s easy to see the merit behind such a promotion. Classic.
These fan gifts will only add fuel to the fire for Memphis games versus OKC and LAC this season – not that they required any more than they already had.
What do you think?
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