Scoring Memphis Grizzlies tickets through an old friend

Long ago, someone smart said, “It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.”

Recently, those words of wisdom were proven true for me. A week ago, I was on a short pleasure trip to Memphis, Tenn., when I realized the Grizzlies, their National Basketball Association team, was in town for a game against the Indiana Pacers.

I thought it would be cool to take in the game and check out the newly-built Fed-Ex Forum. The small problem was I didn’t really want to pay the $90 apiece for the three tickets I needed. So, I thought I’d give the old, “It’s not always what you know, it’s who you know” a try.

A college friend of mine, Mitchell “J.J.” Anderson, is the assistant coach for the team. Granted, I haven’t spoken with him in almost 24 years, but I figured, hey, what the heck, I’d give him a call, catch up on old times and see if I could score some free tickets.

I called him at the Grizzlies office, and after reminding him of who I was and how close of friends we were back then, I told him I’d love to catch the game while I was in town. Without hesitation, he asked how many tickets I needed, and said they would be waiting for me at the will-call window prior to the game.

Saturday night, we went to the game and had a great time, even though the Grizzlies lost. The Forum is the coolest sports venue I’ve ever been in. We had great seats on the main floor—the only thing closer were the folding chairs the bigwigs sit in. It was made even cooler by the fact that my party was a guest of the assistant coach. I did end up spending enough money on concessions and souvenirs that, even with the lost ticket revenue, the Forum will still be in business this week.

While Anderson was in school, he was a Playboy All-American for the Bradley Braves and went on to a career in professional basketball following graduation. He was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers. After a few years in the NBA, he moved on to play in the European league for several more seasons. I always tried to follow where he was and keep up with how he was doing, but I eventually lost touch with him.

It would have been nice to re-establish the connection. I wanted to thank him personally, but an overzealous security guard kept me from accessing the court. I’ll have to settle for sending him a thank-you card. It just won’t be the same.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Feb. 14-20, 2007, issue

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