The Memphis Grizzlies are a professional basketball team based in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The team is part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with the Toronto Raptors, the Grizzlies were established in 1995 as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. The team originated that year in Vancouver, British Columbia and relocated to Memphis in 2001. The team's majority owner is Michael Heisley, who controls a 95% share of the franchise; the remaining 5% is controlled by several local owners, including AutoZone founder J. R. ("Pitt") Hyde, his wife Barbara Hyde, equity manager Staley Cates, and former NBA player and University of Memphis point guard Elliot Perry.<ref>David Williams, Grizzlies partners truly in minority, The Commercial Appeal, March 27, 2008.</ref>
While two other teams in Tennessee (Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators) in the four major North American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) play in Nashville, the Grizzlies are the only team currently to play in Memphis.
Every year, except the 1998–99 season,<ref>Kingston, Gary. "NBA cancels rest of the pre-season", Vancouver Sun, 6 October 1998, p. E3. </ref> the Grizzlies played the Raptors in the pre-season Naismith Cup, held at a neutral venue in Canada.<ref>"Raptors romp over Grizzlies in annual Naismith Cup", Kitchener Record, 19 October 1999. </ref> The Grizzlies first official match was against the Portland Trail Blazers; both it and the following game against the Timberwolves was won.<ref name=br9596>1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The team followed up by losing 19 straight games, and later set the NBA single-season record of 23 straight losses in February to April.<ref>Team Streak Finder. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The season ended with 15 wins and 67 losses—the .196 winning percentage being the lowest in the whole league. The team saw an average attendance of 17,183 spectators, 14th in the NBA.<ref name=br9596 />
Shareef Abdur-Rahim was selected third overall by the Grizzlies in the 1996 Draft.<ref>Player Card. ESPN. Retrieved on 21 June 2007.</ref> He made an immediate impact playing for the Grizzlies, becoming the team's leading scorer while setting a franchise record of 18.7 points per game (ppg). He finished third in balloting for the NBA Rookie of the Year and was picked for the All-Rookie First Team. By the end of the 1996–97 season, Abdur-Rahim led the team in scoring on 33 occasions, rebounding on 23 occasions.<ref>Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Bio. National Basketball Association. Retrieved on 6 June 2007.</ref> Abdur-Rahim remained the centerpiece of the team as long as they remained in Vancouver; in the 1998–99 season, he elevated his performance with 23.0 ppg.<ref>Shareef Abdur-Rahim – Career Stats and Totals. National Basketball Association. Retrieved on 6 June 2007.</ref> The Grizzlies traded Anthony Peeler and George Lynch from the Los Angeles Lakers.<ref>Anthony Peeler. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref><ref>George Lynch. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> Winters was removed as coach after 43 games, and replaced for the remaining of the season by Jackson. The 1996–97 season saw the Grizzlies only win 14 games, again the worst in the whole league. <ref name=br9697>1996-97 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref>
The 1997–98 season saw the hiring of Brian Hill as head coach.<ref name=br9798>1997-98 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> In the draft, Vancouver selected Antonio Daniels with the fourth pick.<ref name=daniels>Antonio Daniels. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The team traded to get Otis Thorpe for the 2003 first-round draft pick and Sam Mack for Rodrick Rhodes. Both would however only play a single season for the Grizzlies.<ref>Otis Thorpe. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref><ref>Sam Mack. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The team won 19 games, placing the sixth in the division, ahead of the Denver Nuggets,<ref>1997-98 NBA Season Summary. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> and 25th overall in the league.<ref name=br9798 />
Ahead of the 1998–99 season, Daniels was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Carl Herrera and Felipe Lopez.<ref name=daniels /> The Grizzlies signed free agent Cherokee Parks<ref>Cherokee Parks. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> and traded Daniels for the Spurs' Felipe Lopez and Carl Herrera.<ref name=daniels /> In the draft, the Grizzlies selected Mike Bibby with a second overall pick.<ref>Cherokee Parks. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The 1998–99 NBA lockout reduced the season to 50 games.<ref>Donovan, John (4 February 1999). Let the semi-season begin: Expect injuries, intensity and a new champion in '99. CNN Sports Illustrated. Retrieved on 13 April 2009.</ref> While average attendance league-wide dropped that season,<ref name="buoyed">Rovell, Darren (8 February 2005). NHL's future buoyed by die-hard fanbase. ESPN. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref> it had a slight increase in Vancouver.<ref name=br9798>1998-99 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref> The team finished with 8 wins and 42 losses, giving it an all-time low winning percentage of .160.<ref name=br9899>1998-99 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 21 May 2011.</ref>
The Grizzlies again had second pick in the 1999 Draft. Despite having a good point guard in Bibby, they selected Steve Francis. He had hoped to be selected first by the Chicago Bulls, and his managers had several times indicated that he was not interested in playing in Vancouver. He relented and briefly considered joining the Grizzlies, but after an incident at the airport, his manager Jeffrey Fried started trying to get him traded. In what became the biggest deal till then in NBA history, involving eleven players and three teams.<ref>Jaffe, Harry (1 March 2000). Selling Steve Francis. Washingtonian. Retrieved on 20 May 2011.</ref> Also Massenburg was sent to Houston, Smith, Mayberry, Rhodes and Ndiaye were sent to Orlando Magic, while the Grizzlies received forwards Othella Harrington and Antoine Carr, guards Michael Dickerson and Brent Price, first- and second-round draft picks and cash.<ref>Rockets Sign Steve Francis. CBS News (1 September 1999). Retrieved on 20 May 2011.</ref> Francis would go on to win the Rookie of the Year Award,<ref>Associated Press (9 May 2000). Bull, Rocket Win Rookie Award. CBS News. Retrieved on 20 May 2011.</ref> and was harassed both verbally and physically by fans when he played against the Grizzlies.
The 1999–2000 season saw Lionel Hollins take over as coach after 22 matches, after Hill had only won four games. The season ended with 22 wins and 60 losses, placing the Grizzlies last in the division. The season also saw a large drop in attendance, averaging 13,899, ranking the team 27th in the league.<ref name=br9900>1999-00 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref>
In the team's final season in Vancouver, Sidney Lowe was hired as head coach.<ref name=br0001>2000-01 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref> Forward Stromile Swift was selected as the second-overall pick in the draft.<ref>Stromile Swift. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref> The season ended with 23 wins and 59 losses, finishing last in the division.<ref name=br0001 /> The team's final game at GM Place was against the Rockets on 14 April. The Vancouver Grizzlies' final match was a 95–81 win against the Golden State Warriors on 18 April.<ref>2000-01 Vancouver Grizzlies Schedule and Results. Sports Reference. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref>
Financially, the 1998 lockout was the turning point for the team. Attendance plummeted from a league average of 16,108 in the 1997–98 season to 13,899 in the 1999–2000 season, which was the third-lowest in the league.<ref name=br9798 /><ref name=br9900 /> Orca Bay started losing money on operations, in part because of a weak Canadian dollar.<ref>Morris, Jim. "Grizzlies a financial failure", CBC Sports, 22 March 2001. </ref>
Griffiths sold Orca Bay to Seattle-based John McCaw, Jr. in 1995 and 1996.<ref>McCaw Agrees to Purchase Griffiths' Shares in Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment. Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment (12 November 1996). Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref> In September 1999, McCaw announced the sale of the Grizzlies, but not the arena or the Canucks, to NHL's St. Louis Blues-owner Bill Laurie for US$200 million.<ref>Daniels, Craig (20 October 1999). Grizzlies sale stinks for 52 million reasons. Toronto Sun. Retrieved on 22 May 2011.</ref> He stated that he intended to move the Grizzlies to St. Louis, but the transaction was stopped by the NBA.<ref>"Vancouver Grizzlies back up for sale", Canadian Online Explorer, 21 January 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref>
Instead, McCaw sold the team to Chicago-based Michael Heisley for US$160 million. At the time he stated that he intended to keep the team in Vancouver,<ref>Shapiro, Mark. "Chicagoan Buys Grizzlies, Says They'll Stay In Vancouver", Chicago Tribune, 25 January 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> but immediately stated a process to find a suitable relocation city in the US.<ref name=lasvegas>Shaikin, Bill. "Owner of Grizzlies Tours Las Vegas", Los Angeles Times, 1 March 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> After initially investigating Memphis,<ref>"NBA Approves Grizzlies' Move", Los Angeles Times, 4 July 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> Las Vegas,<ref name=lasvegas /> New Orleans, St. Louis,<ref name=neworleans>"City Charms NBA's Grizzlies", Los Angeles Times, February 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> Anaheim, San Diego,<ref name=anaheim>Shaikin, Bill. "Anaheim Interested in Landing Grizzlies", Los Angeles Times, 13 February 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> Buffalo<ref>"Buffalo joins cities trying to lure Grizzlies out of Vancouver", Canadian Television, 21 February 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> and Louisville.<ref>"Stakes Raised In Grizzlies Bidding War", WLKY, March 2001. Retrieved on 20 May 2011. </ref> Memphis was announced as the preferred site on 26 March,<ref>"Memphis Grizzlies? It's looking that way", Desert News, 26 March 2001. Retrieved on 22 May 2011. </ref> even though a new venue would have to be built there.<ref>Shaikin, Bill. "Anaheim, Pond Still Not Ready to Concede Defeat", Los Angeles Times, 24 March 2001. Retrieved on 23 May 2011. </ref> The NBA Board of Governors approved the move on 4 July.<ref name=ok>Baird, Woody. "NBA officially OKs team transfer to Memphis", Desert News, 4 July 2001. Retrieved on 22 May 2011. </ref>
2001–2008: Memphis and the Pau Gasol era
The Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets both applied with the NBA to relocate to Memphis on the same day, 26 March 2001. The Grizzlies' request was granted by the NBA. Memphis became the Easternmost city among those of the league's Western Conference teams. By the time the Grizzlies relocated, Memphis-based company FedEx hoped the team would change its name to the Memphis Express. The NBA quickly quashed that idea, ruling that they would not allow teams to be named for corporations.<ref>"NBA rejects Memphis Express moniker", cbc.ca, 2001-05-22. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. </ref> Although the Hornets failed in their quest to move to Memphis, they relocated from Charlotte to New Orleans before the start of the 2002-03 NBA season. Although not related, Memphis also had a professional football team of the same name in the WFL that folded with the league in 1975.
In the 2001 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks drafted Pau Gasol as the 3rd overall pick, who was traded to the Grizzlies. After the Grizzlies' first season in Memphis, Gasol won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. The Grizzlies also drafted Shane Battier, who quickly became an unofficial spokesman for the team and a fan favorite. However, despite the strong draft class, general manager Billy Knight was let go. After Billy Knight's departure and the 2001–02 season, the team hired former Los Angeles Laker and Hall of Famer Jerry West as general manager in 2002, who later received the 2003–04 NBA Executive of the Year Award. After West's arrival the team was changed a great deal from Knight's team, with the removal of Sidney Lowe as head coach after a dismal 0–8 start to the season and a great deal of player movement, with players such as Mike Miller and James Posey becoming vital to the team's success. During the 2002–03 season, Hubie Brown was hired to coach the Grizzlies. Brown won the NBA Coach of the Year Award during the next season when the Grizzlies made the NBA playoffs for the first time in team history in the spring of 2004 as the sixth seed in the Western Conference in a drastic change from being perennially one of the worst teams in the NBA.
However, Hubie Brown stepped down as head coach during the 2004–05 season. At the time of his resignation, the Grizzlies had a losing record but West was able to hire TNT analyst and former coach Mike Fratello to replace Brown. The Grizzlies' record markedly improved and the team advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season. However, upon reaching the playoffs, the Grizzlies were swept out in the first round once again, this time by the Phoenix Suns. After this season, which ended tumultuously with anger between Fratello and many of the players, namely Bonzi Wells and Jason Williams, the team had an active 2005 offseason in which they revamped the team and added veteran talent. While the Grizzlies lost Bonzi Wells, Jason Williams, Stromile Swift, and James Posey, they acquired Damon Stoudamire, Bobby Jackson, Hakim Warrick, and Eddie Jones. They made the playoffs for the third consecutive year as well.
With their record they owned the fifth playoff seed in the Western Conference and would have to face the Dallas Mavericks, who swept the Grizzlies in 4 games. Following the 2006 NBA Draft, Jerry West traded Shane Battier to the Houston Rockets for their first round pick Rudy Gay of the University of Connecticut and Stromile Swift. Before the 2006–07 season, the Grizzlies suffered a crippling blow when Gasol broke his left foot while playing for Spain in the World Championships. The Grizzlies started the season 5–17 without Gasol, and then went 1–7 while he was limited to about 25 minutes per game.<ref>Yahoo! Sports - Sports News, Scores, Rumors, Fantasy Games, and more</ref> At that point, Fratello was fired and replaced by Tony Barone, Sr. as interim coach. Barone was the team's player personnel director and had never coached an NBA game though he had coached at the collegiate level for both Creighton and Texas A&M being named coach of the year in their conferences three times during his tenure.<ref>Template error: argument title is required. </ref> Grizzlies finished the 2006–07 season with the league's worst 22–60 record, and Jerry West announced resignation from his position as the team's general manager shortly after end of the regular season. The team also hired highly touted Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni to be the team's new head coach. Despite their last place finish, the Grizzlies, who held the best chance of landing the first pick in a draft, ended up with the fourth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. With this pick, the Grizzlies selected Mike Conley, Jr., a guard from Ohio State.
On 18 June 2007, the Grizzlies named former Boston Celtics GM Chris Wallace as the team's General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations, replacing the retired West.<ref>Springer, Shira. "GM Wallace joins Grizzlies", The Boston Globe, 2007-06-19. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. </ref> A few days later, the Grizzlies hired former Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic head coach Johnny Davis, longtime NBA assistant coach Gordon Chiesa, and the head coach of the 2007 NBA Development League champion Dakota Wizards, David Joerger, as the team's new assistant coaches. Gene Bartow, a Memphis basketball legend, was named the Grizzlies' President of Basketball Operations on August 16, 2007.<ref>"Grizzlies name Gene Bartow President of Hoops LP", NBA.com, 2007-08-16. Retrieved on 2007-11-22. </ref> On 1 February 2008, Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks.<ref>ESPN - In dire need of frontcourt help, Lakers acquire Gasol from Grizzlies - NBA</ref><ref>Gasol dealt to Lakers in blockbuster trade. Retrieved on 2008-02-01.</ref>
2008–present: Rudy Gay & Zach Randolph Era
On 22 January 2009, head coach Marc Iavaroni was fired and replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Johnny Davis. To replace Iavaroni, Lionel Hollins was named the Grizzlies' head coach on 25 January 2009.<ref>"Grizzlies introduce Lionel Hollins as new coach". </ref>
On 25 June 2009, with the 2nd Overall pick in the NBA Draft, Memphis selected C Hasheem Thabeet from the University of Connecticut, then selected DeMarre Carroll from the University of Missouri with the 27th overall pick.
On 9 September 2009 , the Grizzlies Signed free agent Allen Iverson to a single year, $3.5 million deal. Iverson had been the subject of some controversy due to the nature of his previous season with the Detroit Pistons, though he stated that he was excited about helping the team, and believed "God chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career." However, he only played in three games (none of them in Memphis) before leaving for "personal problems." He was then waived by the Grizzlies.<ref name="iverson points">Grizzlies Officially Waive Iverson, "Grizzlies officially waive Iverson", Yahoo! News, November 17, 2009.</ref>
Following Iverson's departure, the Grizzlies gradually improved. With new acquisition Zach Randolph playing at an all-star level, Marc Gasol's improvement and a commitment to defense, the Grizzlies were in playoff contention for much of the 2009-10 NBA season, before finishing 10th in the West with a 40-42 record.
The Grizzlies found their way back into the post-season for the first time in five years during the 2010-11 NBA season after a 101-96 home victory over the Sacramento Kings on April 8, 2011.<ref>"Randolph, Conley lead Grizzlies past Kings 101-96", accessed April 9, 2011.</ref> While in the playoff hunt in February 2011, the Grizzlies traded center Hasheem Thabeet, forward DeMarre Carroll, and a protected future first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for forward Shane Battier and guard Ishmael Smith.
The Grizzlies achieved several firsts in franchise history during the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Entering the playoffs as an eighth seed, the team won their first playoff game in franchise history on 17 April 2011 with a 101-98 victory on the road against the top seeded San Antonio Spurs. Memphis then won their first home playoff game when they beat the Spurs 91-88 on 23 April 2011.<ref>"Grizzlies pull away from top-seeded Spurs to seize 3-1 series lead". ESPN. Accessed April 26, 2011</ref> Finally, on April 29, the team won their first playoff series when they beat the Spurs in game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals 99-91 to win the series 4 games to 2. This was only the fourth time in NBA history that a number 8 seed defeated a number 1 seed, and only the second time in a best-of-seven series (the first two were in a best-of-five series).<ref name="2011serieswin">"Grizzlies hold on, win series 4-2 to stun top-seeded Spurs". ESPN. Accessed April 30, 2011</ref> The Grizzlies' historic season came to an end after the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the team in game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.<ref name="2011playoffdefeat>"Thunder oust Grizzlies as Kevin Durant answers bell with 39-point Game 7". ESPN. Accessed May 15, 2011</ref>
Marc Gasol, Shane Battier, and Hamed Haddadi are free agents after the 2010-2011 season.<ref>"HoopsHype", Memphis Grizzlies Salaries, accessed 1 March 2011.</ref>
- General Motors Place (1995–2001)
- Pyramid Arena (2001–2004)
- FedExForum (2004–present)
Franchise and NBA records
Career statistical leaders
- Games – Pau Gasol (471)
- Minutes Played – Pau Gasol (16,727)
- Field Goals Made – Pau Gasol (3,286)
- Field Goals Attempted – Pau Gasol (6,459)
- 3-Point Field Goals Made – Mike Miller (737)
- 3-Point Field Goals Attempted – Mike Miller (1,778)
- Free Throws Made – Pau Gasol (2,284)
- Free Throws Attempted – Pau Gasol (3,130)
- Offensive Rebounds – Pau Gasol (1,187)
- Defensive Rebounds – Pau Gasol (2,864)
- Total Rebounds – Pau Gasol (4,051)
- Assists – Jason Williams (2,041)
- Steals – Shane Battier (507)
- Blocked Shots – Pau Gasol (868)
- Turnovers – Pau Gasol (1,224)
- Personal Fouls – Bryant Reeves (1,365)
- Points – Pau Gasol (8,872)
Per game statistical leaders
- Minutes Played – O.J. Mayo (39.4)
- Field Goals Made - Shareef Abdur-Rahim (7.43)
- Field Goals Attempted – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (16.03)
- 3-Point Field Goals Made – Mike Miller (2.0)
- 3-Point Field Goals Attempted – Jason Williams (5.38)
- Free Throws Made – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (5.73)
- Free Throws Attempted – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (7.15)
- Offensive Rebounds – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (2.53)
- Defensive Rebounds – Pau Gasol (7.3)
- Total Rebounds – Pau Gasol (9.8)
- Assists – Mike Bibby (7.83)
- Steals – Greg Anthony (1.83)
- Blocked Shots – Pau Gasol (2.1)
- Turnovers – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3.06)
- Personal Fouls - Bryant Reeves (3.46)
- Points – Shareef Abdur-Rahim (23.8)
- Pau Gasol – 2002
- Hubie Brown – 2004
- Jerry West – 2004
- Mike Miller – 2006
- Zach Randolph - 2011
- Tony Allen - 2011
- Shareef Abdur-Rahim - 1997
- Mike Bibby - 1999
- Pau Gasol - 2002
- Shane Battier - 2002
- Rudy Gay - 2007
- O.J. Mayo - 2009
- Bryant Reeves - 1996
- Gordan Giriček - 2003
- Juan Carlos Navarro - 2008
- Marc Gasol - 2009
Television and radio
The Grizzles appear on television on the cable channel SportSouth, owned and operated by Fox Sports Net as a sister station to Fox Sports Tennessee. The TV crew is Pete Pranica on commentary, Brevin Knight or Sean Tuohy on color analysis, and Rob Fischer on sideline reporting.
On radio, the Grizzlies are heard on WRBO 103.5 FM. The radio crew is Eric Hasseltine on commentary, and Hank McDowell and Elliot Perry on analysis.
- Stu Jackson – 1994–2000
- Billy Knight – 2000–2002
- Dick Versace – 2002–2005
- Jerry West – 2005–2007
- Chris Wallace – 2007–present