Thursday, May 05, 2011

Memphis Ball Boy

It's been sort of quiet here lately, and that's because I didn't want to bore you with the sole topic that is dominating our everyday life: Basketball. See, the NBA Playoffs have started. Usually, that's something that only effects me and Chip. This year, with the Grizzlies' exciting run, the playoffs have become more important- not only to the city of Memphis, but also to our own Connor.

In the past several months, Connor has really started to care about watching basketball. This trend started during the C-USA and NCAA tournaments, when he fell in love with the Tigers. It's like a light switch went off, and he realized that a) this team has my city name on their jersey, and b) there are real people wearing those jerseys! Seemingly overnight, he knew all the players' names and jersey numbers. He followed that tournament religiously, even cheering for a UConn victory just to bug me since I was pulling for Butler. When it was over, he said, "Now what?"

Much earlier in the season, he had attended his first NBA game, Memphis vs. Detroit. He had also started playing NBA games on his handheld gaming devices. He was learning who all the players were, what their numbers are, etc. Once March Madness was over and his civic pride had kicked in, his interest went from "general NBA" to "GRIZZLIES." He begged to stay up and watch their games, he studied the programs Chip and I brought home from games we attended, and he really started listening to sports radio when in the car with me. Following the playoff race was exciting for him. Who would be seeded where? Would the Grizzlies slip in? Who and when will we play!

Towards the end of the season, I managed to secure a couple of FANTASTIC tickets for me and Connor for a game against the Spurs (pictured above). Connor watched the warm-ups like it was his job, and by the time the game started, he told me who was and was not going to have a good game. And he was dead on. Since the playoffs have started, he has watched with the same intensity. He's stayed up late watching games on TV, he has talked to us about all the series with a surprising knowledge of them all, and he has not let his growl towel leave his side. He sleeps with it, he carries it to school in his backpack, and he waves it during every game we watch.

It was only fitting that I splurged on a ticket for him to attend Game 6 against the Spurs last Friday night. (By "splurged" I mean "bought a $25 nosebleed seat.") I checked him out of school early so that we could get Downtown ahead of the massive crowds gathering to watch the Grizzlies, the Redbirds, and the Beale Street Music Festival. We went to the team store and bought him a t-shirt and a Grizzlies bracelet (the thick rubber kind) and then cheered the Grizzlies on to a first round victory. He had an amazing time, and proceeded to wear that Grizzlies shirt to sleep in, all the next day, and then to sleep in again. We finally peeled it off of him Sunday morning and soaked him in a nice long shower. The shower, incidentally, is the only time he has taken off his Grizzlies bracelet in the past week.

His blossoming love affair with basketball, and with the Grizzlies in particular, has been fun to watch. It's just another way he seems more and more grown up to me on a daily basis. It's been a joy to have this common interest to share with him, after years of just tolerating his interest in the movie Cars or playing endless games of Memory. I'm almost worried about the void that will appear in his life when the NBA Champion is finally crowned! But not too worried- we've got a whole team of Redbirds whose jersey numbers Connor doesn't know yet.

All pictures appear courtesy of my iPhone. In no way do they reflect the talents of Chip Chockley Photography!

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