It was pandemonium.
It was bedlam.
Okay, you get it.
It was (Memphis) Madness.
But most importantly, it was a celebration of Penny Hardaway. And celebrate we did.
So never mind that Drake and Justin Timberlake didn’t show as reported. Because Moneybagg Yo, Blocboy JB, and Yo Gotti — Memphis natives all — did.
Tiger Basketball is back in full force, folks, and I’m here to confirm it. The plaza was awash with blue hours before the event. The Westin bar played host to all the familiar faces. And everyone young and old gathered together to do what? Watch a glorified practice?
The team proved that it was all business, as the men came out in fresh black suit formal. The rumors about Penny cultivating an NBA culture get truer by the day. The players already carry themselves as professionals.
Penny Hardaway emerged to about 110 seconds of applause (which is a long damn time to clap). He walked out of the tunnel to his own theme song, as rapper Derez Deshon preceded him as part of Penny’s star-studded entourage. The level of sustained badassness you have to be to walk out to your own song is rarely obtained. But guess what? Penny pulled it off.
ALo won the skills contest. Sharpshooter David Wingett won the 3-pt contest. First 48 was every bit as exciting as advertised. Ryan Boyce nearly scraped the sky as he threw down a thunderous between-the-legs dunk.
We watched as the players scrimmaged. How good will the team be this season? Who can say. They shot (and missed) a lot of 3s, but there were indeed flashes. An Antwann Jones no look dish here. An “ALo to First 48” there. Elements of success I hope to see become routine this upcoming season.
The staff and players donned warm-ups with “Say Less” scrolled the back, a modern term — for those that may not know — for “say no more.”
Each of these components confirmed what we already suspected: Penny and staff have transformed Memphis Basketball, nearly overnight, into the trendiest program in college basketball. Of course, none of this means sh*t unless they get the commits from the numerous top 50 players in attendance. None of this resonates as well next year if Penny isn’t able to collect the Ws once the ball is actually tipped.
Will the Tigers go undefeated? No. Will there be tough losses and down moments? Without a doubt.
But let’s save the critique for another time. Now is a time for only happiness. Now is a time for Madness. Oh, and as the crowd last night never let you forget, “WE WANT WISEMAN!” As stated before, I can indeed confirm that Memphis Basketball is back.
[banner image: Tiger Athletics]