The Grizzlies rookie campaign ended Wednesday night with a matchup against Al Thornton and the LA Clippers and on WPXX (PAX 50 - the local TV station that covered the Grizzlies rookie league games last summer, you were able to watch...reruns of the Family Feud!
Memphis is sooooo not ready to be a major league city.
Of course this isn't the only time when the Memphis Grizzlies rookie team's games weren't televised in Memphis. The team used to play in the Long Beach Rookie league or whatever it was called. That league had something like 4 teams participating and was not televised anywhere. In 2007, the Grizzlies joined the Las Vegas Summer League and had all of their games televised either on NBA-TV or WPXX. This season, with the addition of OJ Mayo exciting the local fan base and the team being in the midst of a general revival of interest local fans were again blacked out except for the one Sunday night NBA-TV game.
It was unfortunate NBA TV chose the Grizzlies-Lakers rookie came to be a national TV broadcast since the Grizzlies were playing their third straight game and obviously the legs were a little tired. Still the stands were full of fans anxious to see Mayo, Conley and Darrell Arthur for the Grizzlies. The Lakers are a big draw in Vegas too. Apparently the folks running NBA TV thought the game would draw more interest than re-runs of the 1966 Celtics-Lakers championship series. In Memphis the decision is different. It's not like the Grizzlies are like every other team in not covering the summer league either. The Lakers broadcast everyone of their summer league games in LA.
Why did the Grizzlies not get broadcast this season?
According to George Flinn of Flinn Broadcasting the decision was...well actually he didn't say anyting. He wouldn't talk to me but if he had I am sure it would sound something like this.
3SOB: Why aren't you guys covering the Grizzlies Rookie League Games? Was it because you don't think anyone would watch?
Flinn: No. We didn't think we could sell enough advertising to make it profitable. Selling the ad space to cover the expenses of Family Feud re-runs would be easy. Selling enough ads to cover the expense of the buying the game from the NBA Network would be prohibitively more expensive. We love the Grizzlies and want to maintain....
blah, blah, blah. Business. Money. The Bottom line. Why does it always come down to how much profit someone can make? Heisley wants to make money with the Grizzlies. WPXX wants to make money at the station. Local businesses want to make money too. And why didn't Memphis businesses believe that they could reach enough customers by advertising during Grizzlies games?
I think I know why. And I hope this is going to change. After the Gasol trade last year everyone from casual fans to local businesses to the national media believed that the Grizzlies had quit trying to compete in the NBA. The team had relegated itself to minor league status. No one wanted to be associated with a loser and Memphis was the epitome of a loser franchise in the NBA.
All that changed at 11:00 pm on Thursday, June 26th. That was when OJ Mayo, Darrell Arthur and hope all became a part of the Memphis Grizzlies.
If WPXX had the opportunity after June 26th to broadcast the games they probably would have because the advertisers would support the apparent new direction the team was taking. Alas it was too late. The summer league was only 15 days away and there were two weekends and a national holiday in between. There simply wasn't time enough to get it done.
The message needs to be that 'if you show it, they will come.'
People in Memphis understand building a winner takes time. After all the Tigers may have been thrust into the nation's conscience this past year but most Memphians know it took two NIT appearances, a couple of early NCAA exits and two Elite 8 runs to suddenly burst onto the scene last year. The same is true of the Grizzlies. Basically we just signed Dajuan Wagner. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but it's still a pretty damn long tunnel.