The Grizzlies franchise is going to embark on their 13th year of existence on October 31st.
The previous twelve seasons were split evenly between Vancouver and Memphis. Six years spent in both cities.
1995-2001 The Vancouver years:
In Vancouver the team was called the worst professional franchise in all sports. The Vancouver Grizzlies were a laughing stock around the league. They won 15 games their first season, 14 games their second season, 19 games their third season (their lone season outside of last place) and 8 games in the strike-shortened 4th season before busting out to win 22 and 23 their last two years in Vancouver. That means their best season was one game better than the Grizzlies last season in Memphis!
Their overall record in 6years above the border was a dismal 101-359 for an overall winning percentage of 21.9%. The team had 5 head coaches, 2 GM's, three owners and two mascots. Originally the Grizzlies were supposed to be called the Mounties but the Royal Canadiam Mounted Police refused to allow their name to be used in such an manner. Wise choice in hindsight.
So instead the basketball minds in Vancouver chose to name the team after a creature who is asleep during most of a basketball season.
And you wonder why the team wasn't more successful?
The franchise chose to give away their #1 pick in the draft that produced Carmello Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich in exchange for Otis Thorpe despite Thorpe telling everyone who would listen he didn't want to be in Memphis. They drafted Steve Francis despite his repeated comments stating he would never play for Vancouver. Francis never did and the subsequent trade left Vancouver with no talent but some heavy contracts. Way to go Guys. It takes an enormous amount of ineptitude to simultaneously lose the present and the fuure of the franchise that way.
The Memphis years began with a cleaning of the house. Gone were Shareef Abdur Rahim and Mike Bibby, In were Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Paul Gasol and Memphis native Lorenzen Wright. Nearly gone (and never to make an impact on the city) were Bryant 'Big Country' Reeves and Michael Dickerson. Within a year GM Billy Knight and Head Coach Sydney Lowe were gone as well.
The first 5 years in Memphis the team won 23, 28, 50, 45 and 49 games. The team reached the playoffs three times. The team had its first all-star representative when Pau Gasol played in the 2006 all-star game. The team won hardware for Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, Rookie of the Year and 6th Man of the Year during that span.
Even with last season's disappointing 22 win season the franchise still posted a record of 217-275 over the six years in Memphis. More than double the wins the franchise managed to win in Vancouver. The franchise has been rebuilt again and should be improved again this year with the addition of Mike Conley Jr, Juan Carlos Navarro and Darko Milicic not to mention the healthy return of Kyle Lowry.
Now the question is does it matter to Memphis? But that is the subject for a different blog.