TRAVEL BLOG, GAME 2: MEMPHIS
MEMPHIS – In the 15 games the Clippers have played in the Bluff City since Jan. 2012, no stop was shorter than Thursday.
The team arrived less than 19 hours before tipoff with a weather forecast that had plenty of native Memphians talking. The ice and snow would not come until the following day, but the temperature in the city seemingly dropped by the minute.
Due to the game the night before the team did not have a shoot-around or formal workout. They watched a lot of film. Chris Paul said they watched a lot of what they did wrong on defense, but Doc Rivers also showed them past games when they did things correctly.
Whether it was the film session or pride or just general life in the NBA’s regular season, things changed for the Clippers defensively in Memphis. The city that has as much distaste for the Clippers as any fan base for any team in the NBA was, pun intended, left out in the cold.
That’s not to say there wasn’t anything to do prior to the game. Members of the traveling party scattered to a number of the barbeque joints around the arena. I don’t necessarily have a favorite, which makes it more difficult to choose. So, a few people walked to Central BBQ about seven blocks from the hotel.
The restaurant is caddy-corner from the Lorraine Motel, the location of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The motel is being preserved with a monument commemorating Dr. King in the front and an audio message playing on loop that describes the events of April 4, 1968 and Dr. King’s legacy. The National Civil Rights Museum is next door. I’ll never forget former Clipper Caron Butler, who visited the museum during the 2012 Playoffs, saying how touching it was to walk through the museum.
By the time we returned to the hotel, it was close to 35 degrees outside. Not exactly sweatshirt weather. Because of the forecast, the team decided to leave Friday morning after the game, as opposed to Friday afternoon.
That morning it took nearly an hour and a half to de-ice the plane before taking off. The team didn’t arrive in Cleveland late in the evening. Not like it got any warmer.
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