NEW YORK — The crowd had thinned out, and those who remained directed disgruntled mumbles toward the court.
Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Garrett Temple trudged to the bench, their last grasp at a comeback in the Jan. 21 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration game having fallen well short at FedExForum.
Then, in the seemingly meaningless final 89 seconds of arguably the most deflating loss of the Grizzlies’ season, a dream came true.
“Checking in for your Memphis Grizzlies, Julian Washburn,” the public address announcer said.
“It didn’t feel real, to be honest,” Washburn said.
Nothing particularly memorable happened on the court over the final 1:29 of the team’s 105-85 loss to the Pelicans that day.
Washburn’s first NBA shot attempt and first rebound did not come until nine days later.
But after four years at UTEP and three-and-a-half years of fighting to keep his career alive in various professional leagues, this 1:29 was a long time coming for the 27-year-old Washburn.
“Even though it was only like a minute or so, it felt like I was in a dream,” Washburn said of his NBA debut. “It was something I always dreamed of and something I’ve been working toward my whole life is playing in an NBA game.”
The two weeks since have showed just how real Washburn’s dream has become.
Not only is the Grizzlies’ newest two-way player in the NBA, the 6-foot-8 wing is a needed part of a roster that is in a state of chaos as the Thursday trade deadline approaches.