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Griz continue outreach to Muslim community with Islamic Heritage Night

The Memphis Grizzles again recognized the Muslim community at its third annual Islamic Heritage Night the FedEx Forum on Saturday.

The Griz teamed up with 901 Ummah for a day of basketball. The event started off at 1 p.m. with attendees playing on the court. Attendees ages 17 and under engaged in different activities and played in 15-minute games from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and attendees ages 17 and up shot some hoops form 3 p.m. to 5p.m.

Before the game against the Atlanta Hawks, attendees got the opportunity to pray Magrib and Isha in the Draft Room.

The game started at 8 p.m with the Grizzlies looking to rebound from their four-game losing streak. However, the team's lack of energy and tenacity was apparent from the opening tip.

The Hawks were able to run up a 33-15 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. While the Grizzlies did show flashes of the team fans were accustomed to seeing prior to the All Star Break, these instances were few and far between.

One of these spurts involved 40-year-old Grizzlies shooting guard, Vince Carter elevating to throw down a slam dunk from Marc Gasol.

Carter's dunk re-energized the arena which had grown quiet as they witnessed the beatdown the Hawks were laying. Despite putting up a fight near the end, the Hawks ended up proving to much for the Grizz as the team fell 107-90, extending the losing streak to five games.

The event was created by Mohamad Fofana, the creator of Islamic Heritage Night and former employee of the Grizzles, because he felt the Muslim community needed to have its own night just as the Grizzles had hosted so many other denominations in the past.

“We have a lot of different nights like a faith and family night, gospel night, Jewish heritage night and different ones of that nature,” Fofana said. “So looking around at the whole league, at the whole NBA and just in general, there weren’t many nights for Muslims.”

Sameer Mansour, the founder of 901 Ummah and director of the Muslim Basketball League partnered with Fofana in past years and lead the event this year as Fofana is now in San Jose, California representing the San Jose Sharks hockey team.

“I was really excited when he (Fofana) first reached out to me, just as a fan of the Memphis Grizzles, being a season ticket holder, going to the games and what-not,” Mansour said on why he agreed to partner with Fofana. “I always had that attraction to the Memphis basketball games, so that and bringing the Grizzles into the Muslim community and building that connection was very, very appealing to me.”

Photo by Hira Qureshi

Kids take turns shooting hoops.

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