Replacing the Grindfather is no slam dunk. Memphis International Airport has rolled out new videos that spoof the process of replacing former Memphis Grizzlies player Tony Allen as airport spokesman. Allen, affectionately known as the Grindfather, parted ways with the Grizzlies last summer after he wasn’t offered a contract. That also ended Allen’s two-year-old gig as airport pitchman.
In a commercial airing on WMC-TV Channel 5 and Youtube video clips, the airport presents results of mock “auditions” for a new spokesperson. Wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler bantered with longtime WMC weatherman Dave Brown in the spot that’s currently airing.
This is where Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph comes in. The glitch surfaced just days after the news Randolph was leaving for the Sacramento Kings. During his eight years on the team, he’s given tens of thousands of dollars to pay the utility bills of needy Memphians. And thus, the rumor was born: Randolph had made a $1 million parting gift and all you needed to do was make a payment at a kiosk. So at kiosks in gas stations and convenience stores across the city, tens of thousands of people waited for hours in lines, hoping that a generous baller had done what public policy has not: Reduce their energy expenses.
On a typical Saturday, about 800 customers pay their bills at these kiosks, utility officials said. On this Saturday, 28,800 payments were made. “Seeing those people waiting in line, that would be a visual indication of how high these energy burdens are,” said Ariel Drehobl, a local policy research analyst for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.