The Memphis Grizzlies arrived in the Mid-South from Vancouver in 2001 and have found some success with a grinding style. Who are their 25 best players?
Grizzlies may not be indiginous to the Mid-South, but there is a sloth of them that have been doing just fine there for most of the 21st century.
The Memphis Grizzlies began their existence as part of the NBA’s Canadian migration of 1995, when the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies were admitted as expansion clubs, but after six forgettable seasons in British Columbia, the franchise headed south.
The franchise was awarded in April 1994, with Arthur Griffiths, owner of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, heading the group that brought the franchise to B.C.
The lockout of 1998, coupled with a flagging Canadian dollar, prompted John McCaw, who bought the team from Griffiths in 1995, to try and sell the basketball part of the operation to U.S. investors.
A deal was originally in place in September 1999 to sell the Grizzlies to Bill Laurie, owner of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, and relocate to Missouri’s largest city, which had been without an NBA team since the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.
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The NBA shot down the move and instead, Michael Heisley bought the club and moved it to Memphis in July 2001.
In October 2012, the club was sold to Robert Pera and that ownership remains in place today.
The Vancouver years were a disaster on the court–four 60-loss seasons in six years, with the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season producing a franchise-worst .160 winning percentage (8-42).
Things have gotten better since the move to Memphis, where the Grizzlies have made the playoffs nine times, including each of the last six years.
While the Grizzlies represented the NBA’s first franchise in Memphis, the city had a presence in the old American Basketball Association.
The New Orleans Buccaneers played several “home” games at Mid-South Coliseum during the league’s first three seasons before relocating to Memphis in 1970.
The team–known as the Pros, Tams and Sounds during its five years in Tennessee–relocated to Baltimore before folding prior to the 1975-76 ABA campaign.
In 21 seasons, the Grizzlies franchise has a record of 694-980, a .415 winning percentage that is 28th among the NBA’s 30 franchises.
Memphis set a franchise-record with 56 victories in 2012-13. The second season in Vancouver, 1996-97, is the low-water mark with 68 losses, one of six 60-loss campaigns for the franchise (1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98, 1999-2000, 2006-07 and 2007-08).
The team has had six general managers, with current GM Chris Wallace holding the job twice. Re-hired in May 2014, Wallace also was on the job from June 2007-November 2012.
Stu Jackson was the club’s first GM and served from 1994 through May 2000 and Jerry West had a five-year tenure from April 2002-July 2007.
West is the lone Grizzlies exec to be named the NBA’s Executive of the Year, taking the honor in 2003-04.
The team has employed 11 coaches, including interim positions, with Lionel Hollins the franchise’s leading winner at 214-201 in three separate stints.
Hollins was interim coach to close the 1999-2000 season in Vancouver and held the post for four games in 2004-05 before getting the job permanently in 2009.
Hollins was let go after the 2012-13 season. Last season, the Grizzlies were 42-40 under Dave Joerger while setting an NBA record by using 28 different players because of injuries.
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The franchise’s 12th coach was hired on May 29. David Fizdale had been an assistant coach with the
for nine seasons prior to getting his first head coaching position at any level.
The Grizzlies produced one Coach of the Year recipient, Hubie Brown, who was honored in 2003-04.
The franchise has never advanced beyond the Western Conference Finals, losing at that level in 2013.
The Grizzlies have never had the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, although they have selected twice four times, third once, fourth three times and fifth once.
Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies. Players had to have appeared in 125 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.
NOTE: The 150-game standard used with most teams did not yield a list of 25 players.
Next: Journeyman's Early Career Wound Through Memphis