ESPN’s Bill Simmons made an odd remark about the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination and Memphis sports on his podcast yesterday.
Simmons was in Memphis last week for the Western Conference Finals. While he was there, he walked past the Lorraine Motel where MLK was killed in 1968.
He said that the assassination still affects the collective psyche of the city, and causes Grizzlies fans to be overly tense.
Here’s the full quote:
“I didn’t know that much about Memphis, but I didn’t realize the effect that [the MLK] shooting had on that city. … The shooting kind of set the tone for how the city thinks about stuff. Like even — we were at Game 3 right — great crowd. They fall behind and the whole crowd got tense. It was like, ‘Oh no, something bad is going to happen.’ And I think it starts from that shooting and it’s just that mindset they have.”
The Grizzlies were down 2-0 in the series heading into Game 3. So maybe Grizz fans were tense because they were on the verge of going down 3-0 to a vastly superior team?
There’s nothing really offensive here. But it certainly sounds silly to claim that there’s a causal relationship between a 45-year-old murder and the relative energy level of an NBA crowd at a specific game.