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HANGIN' WITH THE GRIZZ
Lee Jenkins
May 20, 2013
FOR SEVEN DAYS SI WENT BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MEMPHIS AS THE WESTERN CONFERENCE CONTENDERS IMPROVISED A GAME PLAN FOR THE THUNDER, BOUNCED BACK FROM A GRUELING DEFEAT—AND GOT THEIR HAIR CUT JUST RIGHT
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May 20, 2013

Hangin' With The Grizz

FOR SEVEN DAYS SI WENT BEHIND THE SCENES WITH MEMPHIS AS THE WESTERN CONFERENCE CONTENDERS IMPROVISED A GAME PLAN FOR THE THUNDER, BOUNCED BACK FROM A GRUELING DEFEAT—AND GOT THEIR HAIR CUT JUST RIGHT

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Conley packed two books for Oklahoma City, A Divine Revelation of Heaven and A Divine Revelation of Hell. "I'm reading Heaven first," he said. Pondexter looked up from his chicken Madeira. "But then you have no chance for a happy ending," he deadpanned. Conley was also trying to lure teammates to another movie, Evil Dead, even though Pondexter disdains horror flicks. "Is The Great Gatsby out yet?" he asked.

Pondexter was already spooked by the 102-year-old Skirvin, which, according to local myth, was haunted when the mistress of the original owner jumped out of a 10th-floor window and killed herself. "I looked it up," Conley said. "It's true." When Pondexter was with the Hornets, he once received a call from the front desk, informing him that all phones would be out of order for the night and should be left off the hook. The next morning, he asked his teammates if they heard the same alert, but none did. When he questioned the front desk, he was told there had never been a problem with the phones.

As the group swapped ghost stories, Pondexter glanced down at his cell and cracked a half-smile. Jimmy Goldstein, the roaming NBA superfan who always sits in the front row with his snakeskin hats, leather pants and attractive companions, tweeted, "Quincy Pondexter may have missed a crucial free throw, but he has played fantastic all-around basketball for the Grizzlies." "What did he say?" Conley asked, peeking at the phone. Pondexter covered the screen with his palm. "None of your business," he replied.

In lieu of Evil Dead, Conley hosted a Warriors-Spurs watch party in his 11th-floor room. "Evil Steph Curry," Conley joked. He broke out the Xbox, ordered room service and picked up the tab for Gasol, forward Darrell Arthur and backup guard Tony Wroten. They found Curry, the Warriors' ace, more captivating than any video game. "I'm in awe of what he's doing," Conley raved. "I've never seen anything like it. He's putting up shots you're not supposed to take. And he's making them."

If he wasn't envious, he was at least inspired.

TUESDAY, MAY 7

Game 2, Oklahoma City

A pub sits between the visiting locker room at Chesapeake Energy Arena and the court, and on the walls are pictures of players from Oklahoma who starred in the NBA. Allen grew up in Chicago, but he went to college at Oklahoma State, and his likeness was nowhere to be found. "I'm going to have to do something about that," he said. Allen used to memorize scouting reports until he realized that players were doing the exact opposite of what the reports predicted. "They'd be telling me a guy loves going left, but he just hit me with three straight step-backs to the right," Allen said. "So I started getting the information myself."

The Memphis video department loads footage directly onto his iPad, and after Game 1, Allen requested everything they had on Martin. "If you were guessing, with Westbrook gone, who on their team besides KD is capable of scoring 25?" asked Allen, head buried in his tablet. "It's Kevin Martin, right? He's the biggest threat. If he doesn't score 25, we win." Allen used to guard Durant, even though he is six inches shorter, but Durant seemingly grew too strong for him. "He posts me up every time," Allen lamented. He did not expect a Durant assignment, but as a precaution he requested cutups of Durant's post moves to see which direction he's been driving and fading away.

Allen was so focused during Tuesday's 11 a.m. shootaround, he barked at forward Donte Greene, "Stop talking," strange coming from an outrageous extrovert who is usually in full song. Randolph provided the levity, glancing up at the arena's LED ribbon and noticing an ad for an upcoming concert. "Hey," he blurted, "Beyoncé is coming!"

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