As Memphis sports fans gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table on Thursday, they better roll out a CVS-receipt length list of “thank you’s.”
1. James Wiseman
Pro tip: When Grandpa Joe starts one of his “When I was your age…” tangents this holiday season, just say, “That’s great, but remember when the No. 1-ish player in the country announced he’s going to University of Memphis on national television.”
Then everyone can fan-girl over the unicorn becoming a Tiger.
Thank him for chasing the Memphis dream instead of the blue-blood team.
Thank him for making the unofficial recruiting score: Penny Hardaway 2, John Calipari 0
2. Penny Hardaway
You can’t thank Wiseman without thanking the #ChosenCoach, Penny Hardaway.
All this city wanted was a reason to love Tigers basketball again. All it took was a coach born and raised in Memphis, TN.
His shoe game is strong. His ability to unite the city stronger.
Since his hiring in March, the city’s favorite son has turned Tigers basketball upside down and right-side up again. He’s given FedExForum life; Tigers basketball, a heartbeat.
3. Memphis Tigers Football
You gave up on them, didn’t you?
They lost to Navy and you were mad they didn’t run the ball.
They lost to Tulane and you were mad at EVERYONE.
They lost to UCF and you were mad at the rain.
They lost to Missouri, and oh hell, this season must be a wash.
But, it’s not a wash.
The Memphis Tigers will play the Houston Cougars for all the AAC West marbles on Friday at the Liberty Bowl. They can still go to the AAC Championship Game. They can still get revenge on UCF.
Mike Norvell has kept his team together and growing through adversity, and he has them playing their best football in November.
That’s what it’s all about.
Be thankful he stayed at Memphis for another year.
Be thankful for Darrell Henderson.
Be thankful again for Darrell Henderson.
And be thankful for a football program that has evolved so much in the last decade that you were actually angry about this season. THIS SEASON. Remember 2010 when the Tigers won one game?
Be quiet, eat your turkey.
So, it’s actually happening.
Memphis will play Houston next Friday at the Liberty Bowl for the AAC West title and a spot in the AAC championship game. pic.twitter.com/nd3t7YvGyT— Jessica Benson (@Local24Jessica) November 17, 2018
4. The Memphis Grizzlies
Yes, the Memphis Grizzlies who have won four straight games and share a spot at the top of the Western Conference standings.
Oh, but you say we’re only 16 games into the season?
I’m sorry, perhaps you’d rather be 5-11?
Be thankful for Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, who are embracing their roles as leaders and who are both really good at this basketball thing.
Be thankful, so thankful, for that Jaren Jackson Jr. pick you weren’t so sure about.
Be thankful for those two little words that just won’t go away: Grit and Grind.
And really, that’s what this is all about.
This city’s unique approach to sports, and life. When everyone else zigs, Memphis zags.
And it works.
So be thankful this Thanksgiving for living in Memphis, TN. Because there’s really no place like it.