VOL. 133 | NO. 10 | Friday, January 12, 2018
The Press Box
MLK50 Weekend, Martin’s Mindset, NFL Mock Draft
By Don Wade
The MLK50 events around Monday’s Grizzlies-Lakers game will include NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts touring the National Civil Rights Museum and joining players Mike Conley and Brooks Lopez and retired WNBA star Swin Cash in a discussion: “MLK50: Where do we go from here?”
In addition, the Earl Lloyd Sports Legacy Symposium on Monday before the game will feature former players Penny Hardaway, James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Cash. Although the Grizzlies had not officially released the lineup as of this writing, it was reported on espn.com.
The game between Los Angeles and the Grizzlies will be played at 4:30 p.m.at FedExForum and carried on TNT.
Last season the NBA moved the game away from Martin Luther King Jr. Day and put the Grizzlies playing the Chicago Bulls the night before in prime time on ESPN. The time slot and the game being on ESPN was supposed to soothe Memphis. It didn’t. On a day with NFL playoff games, it was an afterthought.
The NBA schedule-makers may always tilt toward the marquee teams and biggest markets for 81 regular season games each season, but on this one day Memphis should have priority.
It should be a great weekend. But if you’re full-on in favor of the team taking a top-down passive-aggressive approach to “tanking,” this game falls outside that game plan.
Or to channel University of Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller after the win over UCLA: Beat L.A.
DID JEREMIAH MARTIN HAVE ONE FOOT OUT THE DOOR?
After a stretch of bad shooting, U of M guard Jeremiah Martin bounced back with 28 points and 31 points in consecutive wins over Tulsa and Tulane. But in this season of Tiger basketball, there apparently cannot be even a moment without drama.
A local ESPN radio host, Jason Smith, who is a former Tigers basketball beat reporter for The Commercial Appeal, said on-air that Martin was seriously considering a transfer. Given the mass exodus from the program after last season, including Dedric Lawson, K.J. Lawson and Markel Crawford, this did not sound impossible.
But Martin denied he was close to leaving during in an interview on another radio station, Sports56, saying he didn’t know where that rumor came from and “I’m not going to quit on the team.”
Coach Tubby Smith (no relation to Jason) only complicated matters when talking with media about the victory over Tulsa, saying, “Thank goodness we kept guys like Jeremiah …”
OK, what’s that supposed to mean?
Martin was one of three players brought to the postgame press conference following last Tuesday’s win over Tulane here. He sounded bought-in and had praise for Smith’s tweaks to the offense.
“The way we’re playing now it’s getting everyone shots,” Martin said. “We’re just finding out who we are. We may not be the most talented team, but (we’re) just going out and playing hard.”
Martin is only a junior, by the way, so the transfer question will linger. A player only gets four years for a shot at playing in an NCAA Tournament and Martin likely isn’t going to reach that destination this season. So he is starting to run out of time.
NFL MOCK DRAFT
San Diego lost its NFL team, but that hasn’t stopped the San Diego Union-Tribune from posting a mock draft that goes two rounds deep. Of most interest to Memphis fans, Miller was projected to go in the second round, 50th overall, to the Dallas Cowboys.
Three quarterbacks were projected in the top five spots: USC’s Sam Darnold first overall to Cleveland, UCLA’s Josh Rosen second to the New York Giants and Wyoming’s Josh Allen fifth to Denver (that can’t be good for former Tiger Paxton Lynch).
The first two defensive players off the board were North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb at No. 3 to Indianapolis and Alabama defensive back Minka Fitzpatrick at No. 4 to Cleveland (so much for Minka winning more championships).
Don Wade’s column appears in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.