I've long been a firm believer in the idea that a professional sports team should have a name that has some relevance to its geographical region or metropolitan culture. Therefore, in NBA terms, I'm one of those people who believes the name change the Minneapolis Lakers should have undergone upon their move to Los Angeles is long overdue, and that the current team in New Orleans needs to take back the better, more fitting historical New Orleans Jazz name from that poorly named squad in Utah which should have renamed itself the Missionaries or Mountaineers or even the Rockies upon moving to Salt Lake City. The Buffalo Braves got it right when they changed their name to the San Diego Clippers when they went to California in 1978, and they could easily keep their current name, the Los Angeles Clippers. San Diego's first team was actually called the Rockets, but they're a rare case of getting it exactly right AFTER their move, when the name inadvertently became a tribute to the NASA center in their new city, and they became the Houston Rockets.
The Grizzles were created as part of the Canuck contingent the NBA made up to begin play as an expansion in 1995, along with the Toronto Raptors. (http://www.lunch.com/reviews/sports_team/Use...These_Raptors_Bite.html) At their creation, there were two Canadian teams, only one of which was named well. The Raptors were named because of the box office obsession with Steven Spielberg's movie Jurassic Park back then. The well-named team was the western Canada team, the Vancouver Grizzlies. The original name was supposed to be the Vancouver Mounties, after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but those guys objected and so the team was forced to change their name. The expansion was hindered a little bit because the NBA decided to step in and try to get the provincial government of British Columbia to abolish wagering on Grizzlies gamesNBA betting accounted for a lot of money in Canada in 1993, and the profits went to provincial health care. (Similar demands were actually laid out in Ontario.) Since no good evil corporation could ever let money go to a cause like that, the NBA put its foot down and demanded they be allowed to pocket the money. The citizens were naturally pissed, and the issue was resolved in 1994 when the franchise company agreed to donate $500,000 a year to health care, the supposed idea probably that any more would be too socialist so the people would technically benefit by the more freedom offered by the province getting less.
The NBA then denied both Canadian teams one of the top five picks in the draft. In fact, they'd be denied a top pick for their first three seasons, even if they won the lottery. The Grizzlies got the sixth pick and selected Bryant Reeves, a solid player who managed to carry Vancouver to an incredible 15 wins their first year! Reeves really WAS a good player, but he just wasn't enough to carry the team. The man who did become the team's centerpiece was Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He was drafted the next season and was the team's focus right until they left Vancouver. Despite decent players and Abdur-Rahim putting up great numbers, the team couldn't plug its holes. Throughout their entire time in British Columbia, the Grizzlies were abominable. They never Their best record was a hopeless 23 wins. They never cracked 25 wins, they only broke the 20-win barrier twice, and in the reduced 1999 season, they only won eight games.
A devoted fanbase sticks with its team through the best and worst, but for that to happen, the team needs to have been around long enough to have a sizable base. The Grizzlies didn't, and the lockout was bad for both finances and attendance, which totally plummeted. The team started losing tons of money - though that was in small part because of how weak the Canadian Dollar was at the time - so it was sold. There was never any intention to keep the Grizzlies in Vancouver, and since the buyer owned the NHL's Saint Louis Blues, the original intent was to move them to Missouri. The NBA said no, so it was taken and sold to someone else instead. The new owner DID say he wanted to keep the team in Vancouver. Yeah, it's what he SAID, as he physically scoured Memphis, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Saint Louis (?), Anaheim, San Diego, Buffalo, and Louisville for some new digs. Memphis was decided.
In the 2001 draft, the Atlanta Hawks traded their third overall pick, Pau Gasol, to Memphis, where he won Rookie of the Year. They also grabbed fan favorite Shane Battier. In 2002, NBA legend Jerry West was hired to be the new GM and began a designed implosion which included hiring Hubie Brown to coach. In 2004, the Grizzlies were finally in the playoffs. The following year they had a losing record which was just good enough to get them back to the playoffs, and they year after that too. Following the 2006 draft, the team traded Battier to the Houston Rockets for their first round pick, Rudy Gay, and they've been building squad of high-pressure defensive grinders ever since. In 2009, they briefly employed Allen Iverson, and in 2011 they got Battier back. Since then, they've been considered up-and-comers, and during the last strike season they found their way back to the playoffs, where they were eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers in a classic series that went the distance.
This last year, the team was sold again, although if there's any intention to move them again, it hasn't been announced.
You'll notice I didn't have a whole lot to say on the Grizzlies, but that's because there's not a whole lot to be said about them. They're getting better, but being in the middle of the land of college football, they're fighting to avoid being drowned out by the media. Their blue panda bear logo is ridiculous, and their entire past is so nondescript right now that it takes a lot of effort to learn anything about it.
One could expect that. In fairness to the Memphis Grizzlies, they haven't done a whole lot outside the Clippers playoff series to warrant the attention. Even the Toronto Raptors managed to reel in a division title. Memphis doesn't have even that much, let alone a conference championship or an actual title to raise up to the heavens. It really doesn't make a great statement that the holder of most of their career statistical records are held by Pau Gasol. Shareef Abdur-Rahim holds the records in per-game statistics, and in that department Gasol comes up second.
The Grizzlies are getting better, and they seem to hold promise for the future, so I'll give them that. But they've been around since 1995 and lack any standouts in anything to show for it, so I do have to degrade them with the lowest possible score. If it was a few years from now, I might have rated them higher, but it isn't.
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About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston (BaronSamedi3)
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial. Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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