Memphis Grizzlies reserve shooting guard Wayne Ellington is accustomed to hearing trash talk while out on the court.
Just not from his boss.
Such was the case Friday morning during the team’s shoot around in FedExForum. As the Grizzlies (8-2) were wrapping up their one-hour light practice in preparation for Friday night’s Western Conference showdown versus the Los Angeles Lakers (6-6), Ellington and fellow teammates Quincy Pondexter and Josh Selby had the luxury of working out briefly with renown singer and actor Justin Timberlake.
Timberlake, 31, a Memphis native, in September agreed to join new Grizzlies billionaire majority owner Robert Pera’s ownership group, joining rapper Jay-Z (Brooklyn Nets) and actor Will Smith (Philadelphia 76ers) as the NBA’s only famous minority owners.
During the Grizzlies’ shoot around Friday, Timberlake strolled out on the court wearing sweat pants, a T-shirt, and winter hat, then immediately went after a loose ball and began talking jump shots just inside of the free throw line.
For a while, Ellington sensed his famous boss was sending hints that he was up for a game of H-O-R-S-E.
“He was talking a little trash,” Ellington jokingly said of Timberlake, who headed toward the Grizzlies’ locker room after his brief impromptu workout. “He was asking us can we shoot and did we have a little money with us.”
Timberlake, who did not speak to reporters Friday, has built a good reputation as a businessman in recent years, something that, along with his strong ties to the area, were appealing to Pera. Pera, a former Apple engineer, left the company in 2005 to start Ubiquiti Networks, a San Jose, Calif.-based communications technology company that makes WiFi networking equipment. He agreed in June to purchase the Grizzlies from ex-owner Michael Heisley in June for a reported $350 million.
That Timberlake has become a minority owner for the Grizzlies has added more star power to a franchise whose ownership team also includes current Denver Broncos quarterback and Super Bowl 41 MVP Peyton Manning and former four-time NBA All-Star and fellow Memphian Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
Timberlake’s brief appearance Friday at the Grizzlies’ shoot around even prompted players such as Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol to return to the arena after the team’s walk-through to get a glimpse of arguably the most prominent personality within the Grizzlies organization.
“I think he’s pretty cool,” Ellington said of Timberlake. “That was my first time meeting him. For me to see him in movies and stuff like that then out on the court as one of our owners, that’s pretty cool. It’s great for our team. It’s great for our organization. It’s great for our city.”