By: Brianna Smith-Herman
If you’re a huge Grizzlies fan like me you’re probably missing Ja, DB, Jaren Jackson, Brooks, Adams and the entire squad, right about now. This Past season was an exciting one and we are counting down the days until the 22-23 season begins! Over the weekend the NBA released the preliminary schedule for the upcoming season and according to it The Grizzlies will be battling the Warriors on Christmas Day. It’s exciting news for Grizzlies fans; with this being the first Christmas Day Game in Memphis franchise history.
With such exciting news, who better to sit down to talk with than, Grizzlies Marketing and Regional Manager and in-game Emcee Brandon Johnson a.k.a BLJ a.k.a The Best Hype Man in the NBA.
Brandon has been the MC & Host for the Memphis Grizzlies for the past 17 years. He has been there for the extreme highs and the not so good lows, from the Grit N Grind era to the Next Gen era, but one thing that has remained is his love, dedication and loyalty to his home team, The Memphis Grizzlies.
Read more as we discussed Brandon’s 17-year career with The Grizzlies, his favorite Grizz era and how he has evolved behind the microphone.
What does your job as the Marketing and Regional Manager and in-game Emcee entail?
I have meetings daily; especially every game day. We meet early in the morning with our individual teams about the game and how we’re going to execute what’s going to happen during the game. Then pre-game, I’m over concourse activation that takes place right out front of the FedEx Forum. I then have to walk each floor to make sure that everything is in place, functional and to the NBA’s standard. Fun but organized is the key!
What is your favorite part of what you do?
That’s twofold. I enjoy coaching and elevating the Claw Crew. I let them know that this is peak entertainment in the NBA. You represent the organization at all times and it’s important to be professional. They call me “Uncle B” because I teach them the ropes. And I also really enjoy the BLJ character. When the mic and camera turn on, I’m the best hype man in the NBA! I only give that personality to those Grizzlies fans. I absolutely love it.
How important do you think the Grizzlies are to the city of Memphis?
They’re important because it takes your mind off of all the negativity going on in the city, in the world, and in our individual lives. The Grizzlies unify our city! I believe ZBo set that tone for players wanting to come to Memphis. If you buy into this city, the fans will pay it back with love.
What has been your favorite Memphis Grizzlies era?
The Grit N Grind era! Watching them collaborate and work together was remarkable. You saw how they related to each other, even though they were all from different places, and had different backgrounds; their personalities just meshed well. That era lasted for about 5 years and they were able to put players together that you never thought would play together, such as A.I, Vince Carter, Lance Stephenson and Matt Barnes. I liked being around those guys. We’re all around the same age, so we related to one another. At that time, the team was growing and as the team grew, so did the entertainment. It helped me learn and prepare for this new era… they’re so many people that love The Grizzlies.
Who is your favorite Memphis Grizzly of all time?
ZBo! Zach’s my favorite because when he came here he showed me a lot of love. He was personable, humble and grateful to be here. We had mutual respect for one another. He embraced me and since we were close in age we were able to relate on many levels.
What are your predictions for the 22-23 season?
Success! The Grizzlies have gotten a taste of what success looks and feels like, and I think they really enjoyed it. They quickly went from being the underdogs to the dogs. The team and the fan base have one another’s back. These guys are going to continue learning and success is going to be there.