MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It is a big week for the Memphis Tigers as they head to the Big Dance. It’s a shot at the NCAA championship.
It was Blue Day as the Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball Team headed off to Columbus, Ohio for the Big Dance. “We’re going dancing. We’re going to take it round by round. Let’s go Tigers,” said Joey Dorsey, former Memphis Tiger.
They bleed blue. “I have loved the Tigers since I could say the word, ‘Tiger,’” said Janet Jackson, a Memphis Tiger fan. That blue is shown through and through.
There is no hokey pokey or two-stepping around here. Fans lined Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center to send off their team the Tiger way.
“Let’s goooooooo,” yelled Jackson, cheering on her team. “I love the comradery. I love that Penny has instilled for them to put God first before anything and the resiliency of the team. I love it.”
“I just love how they have the fighting spirit,” said Carter Upton, a Memphis Tiger fan. Upton, an aspiring basketball player himself, is a huge fan of Kendrick Davis.
“He’s not the tallest person on the court and I’m not supposed to be that tall. He gives me inspiration,” said Upton.
They are an inspiration looking to the future and the past. Elizabeth Murable used to coach basketball at Treadwell High School where some of the players including Head Coach Penny Hardaway used to attend. “It’s just exciting to see how Penny mentors these young people and how much value they bring to our city,” said Murable.
It is a value shown both on the court and off the court.
“Honestly, when we had all those injuries, that’s the best thing that could happen to us because other players had to step up and become an important part,” said Murable.
“If you go back to 1973 when Larry Finch took the national championship and went to the game, that was an incredible way to bring the city together after the Civil Rights Movement. It still continues today. This city is a basketball city. As great as the Grizzlies may be, Tiger basketball is what brings everyone in the city together. It’s so diverse. Everybody talks about Tigers Basketball,” said Sandy Adams, Memphis Rebounders Vice President.
“This is love. This is who we are in Memphis. It’s about love,” said Hardaway.
Some of the fans are actually traveling to Ohio to see the Tigers play Friday. Columbus, Ohio is about an eight-hour drive from Memphis. In the end, it’s all about Tiger pride.