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Suns to play Grizzlies in MLK Day matchup

Booker vs. Morant will surely be a draw.

Phoenix Suns v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Bits and pieces of the NBA schedule are making their way to light ahead of August 17 full schedule reveal. On Sunday, we learned that the Phoenix Suns would play the Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day. On Monday, it was revealed that their season opener would be against the Dallas Mavericks at home.

NBA insider Shams Charania announced on Tuesday morning that the Suns will once again play on an important day of the NBA season. Phoenix will play the Memphis Grizzlies on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Memphis for the second time in three years.

The Suns played on MLK Day last season, downing the San Antonio Spurs 121-107.

It is an honor to play on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is widely regarded as a day that the NBA “owns.” While the league attempts to compete for Christmas viewership, the NFL season may interfere. The Suns, for example, will play on Christmas this year. But the Arizona Cardinals will as well. The holiday occasionally coincides with the NFL schedule.

The same cannot be said of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The holiday, which takes place on January 16, 2023 and is always on a Monday, falls during the NFL postseason. However, it has no effect on the NBA schedule.

The fact that it is being played in Memphis adds to the significance of this appearance. The National Civil Rights Museum is located in Memphis and is located at the Lorraine Motel, which is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life was ended at the hands of an assassin’s bullet in 1968.

It is a day of remembrance, a day to recognize how far we’ve come as a country in terms of civil rights, and how far we still have to go.

The Suns last played the Grizzlies in Memphis on MLK Day in 2021. Memphis won that bout 108-104, lead by Ja Morant’s layup with 30.8 seconds left in the game, followed by drawing a charge on Chris Paul the next possession.

The game will pit the two top seeds in the Western Conference from the 2021-22 season against each other, both of whom had early postseason exits. In their 2022 playoff run, neither team reached the Western Conference Finals.

Devin Booker, who possesses a 9-12 career record against the Grizzlies, has averaged 24.6 points 4.6 assists, and 3.3 rebounds in his 21 games against Memphis. Ja Morant is 5-4 against the Suns as he enters his fourth season in the league. This will be another marquee matchup for the Suns and an opportunity to have the eyes of the league upon them.

Most importantly, however, it is an opportunity to celebrate the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stated that, “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”