“Grit and grind” and “We don’t bluff” have become synonymous with the Memphis Grizzlies, as the team mirrors the city‘s blue-collar culture. Memphis is also culturally rich, both musically and artistically, an aspect the Grizzlies paid tribute to during their recent community service efforts in the city. From hosting a basketball art show to using art to renovate neighborhood basketball courts, the Grizzlies have been making Memphis an increasingly inspiring place to live.
Back in September during the city’s popular Cooper-Young Festival, the Grizzlies collaborated on a basketball art show with the basketball art blog, Double Scribble, entitled “No Easy Buckets.” The show, which was hung up outside on the walls of the Memphis Made Brewery, featured work from 15 different artists and even had a mini-court set up for festival goers.
Funds raised from the art sold at “No Easy Buckets” went towards the Memphis Grizzlies Community Court program to help renovate courts at Howze Park in the Binghamton neighborhood of Memphis.
This neighborhood and park is significant because Memphis natives and former NBA greats Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry played at Howze growing up. Penny, who is devoted to helping improve Memphis, continues to coach in the neighborhood.
With the help of Grizzlies players and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Howze was renovated this past Monday, into a vision of an ideal combination of art and basketball. Grizzlies Sports Development Coordinator Daniel Peterson provided more background on the renovations: “For us, basketball court renovations are more than just a place to shoot a few hoops, but they are a place where community is built, positive health behaviors are modeled, and people are inspired.”
Peterson continued, “These will be the first, to my knowledge, art park and basketball courts in the country featuring backboard art. The artists Matt Hollister (Double Scribble contributor), Kevin Couliau (of Doin’ It In the Park fame) and David Huffman (San Francisco-based fine artist) did tremendous work.”
Check out the photos above to see the backboards, which look like they could be hung up in an actual art gallery, and the transformation Howze underwent thanks to the Grizzlies.
“Memphians love the Grizzlies and embrace all kinds of creative expression,” says Peterson. “The Grizzlies are committed to building a greater Memphis, and that means not only using our financial resources but also leveraging the sense of unity our team inspires in the city. When we go into a neighborhood park to renovate basketball courts and install fitness equipment, it is a signal that this park is for everyone in the city, not just a limited zip code.
“We use art to help create fun, safe and unique environments for everyone to grit and grind.”
Photos courtesy of Daniel Peterson and Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Ananth Pandian is a writer based in Boston. He’s on Twitter @Ananth_Pandian.