Memphis to give away (temporary) neck tattoos in honor of James Johnson

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On the surface this sounds like a AA minor league giveaway in July.

Yet this works for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Memphis fan base has become enamored with D-League call-up James Johnson, because fans everywhere love the guy who doesn’t have the most natural skill but just outworks everyone on the court (as David Thorpe likes to say, “energy is a talent”). You can relate to that guy more than the athletic 6’10” guy.

Johnson has a large, visible neck tattoo — and the fans love that, too. So Memphis is going to give 5,000 fans temporary neck tattoos that say “Grizzlies” on them at the Feb. 21 game, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Rovell also has the story behind Johnson’s neck tattoo, which is not your normal neck tattoo story (although I’m not sure what that normal story is, save it involving a lot of Jack Daniels).

Johnson got a tattoo of the words “NAYMIN 3.9.13” on his neck last March. It was in honor of his son, Naymin, who was born six weeks early and was fighting for his life in intensive care.

“Life changed for me after that,” Johnson said. “Life wasn’t about only me anymore. After that day, the head on my shoulders was different from what it was before.”

“The tattoo he got wasn’t a symbol of toughness,” Grizzlies chief operating officer Jason Wexler said. “It was a transformational moment in his life, and that resonates with our fans and fits in with everything we are.”

Like his dad, Naymin is a fighter and pulled through. He is how 11 months old and doing well, thank you very much.

It’s hard not to like that story. Doesn’t mean I’m getting a neck tattoo, not even a temporary one. Still, it makes a good promotion in Memphis.