Memphis Grizzlies

Wed, 28 Jan 2009 13:11

History of Memphis Grizzlies

Information about the NBA team Memphis Grizzlies.

The Memphis Grizzlies are one of the 15 teams in the Western Conference of the NBA. They were established in 1995 as the Vancouver Grizzlies, one of the two new Canadian teams together with the Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies’ first players were taken from other teams via an expansion draft. They chose Bryant Reeves as their key player for their first year. The Grizzlies won their first two games but they eventually had a losing record in the 1995-1996 season. They even lost 23 straight games. With their losing record, the Grizzlies secured the 3rd pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. They then chose Shareef Abdur-Rahim who became the early cornerstone of their franchise.

Although Abdur-Rahim played well for the Grizzlies, the team still had the worst record in the 1996 NBA season. They then had another lottery pick the following year, which they used to get Antonio Daniels. The Grizzlies still did not get any stronger and fell to the bottom of the standings. During the 1998-1999 season, the Memphis Grizzlies chose Mike Bibby, a star player for the University of Arizona. The team already had a nucleus of young and talented players but they remained at the bottom of the standings. The Grizzlies got the second pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, which they used to acquire Steve Francis. However, Francis refused to play for the team so he was automatically traded.

The move to Memphis

Losing money while in Vancouver, the team owners decided to relocate the team to Memphis. The Grizzlies then acquired Pau Gasol from the Atlanta Hawks. The Memphis Grizzlies was also able to draft Shane Battier, who became a fan favorite. After the 2001-2002 season, the Memphis Grizzlies wanted to get a better management leader and they hired Jerry West, the former star player of the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1960s. By the 2003-2004 season, West won the Executive of the Year Award. The team also removed Sidney Lowe as their head coach and replaced him with Hubie Brown.

The NBA Playoffs

In 2004, the Memphis Grizzlies were able to crack the playoffs for the first time behind Pau Gasol’s outstanding year. However, they were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs. Although the Memphis Grizzlies had a stellar year, coach Hubie Brown resigned the next season and was replaced by Mike Fratello. During the 2004-2005 season, the Memphis Grizzlies were able to get to the NBA Playoffs again. Just like the previous season, the team lost in the first round, this time to the Phoenix Suns. Hoping to improve their roster, the Memphis Grizzlies signed veterans such as Damon Stoudamire, Bobby Jackson, and Eddie Jones. However, they lost the services of Bonzi Wells, Stromile Swift, and Jason Williams.

The Memphis Grizzlies were in the playoff hunt again during the 2005-2006 season. Now holding the fifth seed, the Memphis Grizzlies were in strong contention for supremacy. However, they were swept in the first round by the Dallas Mavericks. The Memphis Grizzlies are still looking for their first playoff win as they try to gain more explosive players. Thus, after the 2006 NBA Draft, the Memphis Grizzlies traded Shane Battier to the Houston Rockets to acquire Rudy Gay. Yet, the season started bad for the Memphis Grizzlies as they lost Pau Gasol to injury.

Without Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies fell to a miserable 22-60 record. With this, Jerry West resigned from his position. The Memphis Grizzlies were still hoping to get good staff thus they hired Marc Iavaroni, the former Phoenix Suns assistant coach. With their league-last record, the Memphis Grizzlies were vying to get the top pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. However, the lottery gave them the fourth pick which they used on Mike Conley, Jr. from Ohio State. The team continued to struggle which eventually led to the trading of Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gasol’s departure

The Pau Gasol trade in 2008 was questioned by many NBA critics. The Memphis Grizzlies gave up their star player to get Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron Mckie, rights to Pau’s younger brother Marc, and the Lakers’ 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks. Many analysts believed that the trade was a “steal” for the Lakers. Although they gave up lots of players, they pale in comparison to the talent of Pau Gasol. Eventually, Pau Gasol, now out of the shadows of the underachieving Memphis Grizzlies, helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.

As a relatively new franchise, the records of the Memphis Grizzlies are not too much as compared to the other teams. Pau Gasol left as the team leader in virtually every aspect of the game. He leads in the number of games, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, rebounds, blocks, turnovers, and points for the Memphis Grizzlies. The Memphis Grizzlies continued to rebuild since Gasol’s departure. They have drafted O.J. Mayo, the offensive player from the University of Southern California. They also developed Marc Gasol into a strong center.

Looking at the stats

The Memphis Grizzlies have played in various arenas over the past years. In Vancouver, they called General Motors Place their home. After the team transferred, the Memphis Grizzlies played in the Pyramid Arena until 2004. Since then, the Memphis Grizzlies have been logging their home games at the FedEx Forum. The Memphis Grizzlies also had various international players aside from Pau Gasol, who hails from Spain. They were able to land the likes of Robert Archibald from Scotland, Obinna Ekezie from Nigeria, Gordan Giricek from Croatia, Darko Milicic from Serbia, and Jake Tsakilidis from Greece. They also had Juan Carlos Navarro who was also from Spain.

There are various team colors for the Memphis Grizzlies. For games played away from their home court, the Memphis Grizzlies uses a navy blue shade. They also have light blue and smoke blue attire. There are also times when the Memphis Grizzlies used gold.

To attract more fans, the Memphis Grizzlies have made relevant community service. They have outreach programs and a charitable foundation. The players also have mentoring sessions as well as education programs. They even bid some of the jerseys worn by players, with the sale going to charitable institutions.

The fans of the Memphis Grizzlies never stopped believing in their team. Their most memorable games have been recorded to keep the memories alive. In the inaugural season of the Grizzlies’ arrival in Memphis, the team was able to beat then NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers with the score of 114-108. The fans also tally the number of wins per year. In their first year in Vancouver, the Grizzlies only won a total of 15 games. By 2003, they have won 50 games and were able to reach the NBA Playoffs. Overall, the Memphis Grizzlies have won 360 games.

The Memphis Grizzlies are still looking to regain their winning ways as they get more good players. With young talent continuously being developed, it is not surprising to see the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoff hunt once again. It would only be a matter of time before the Memphis Grizzlies become strong contenders in the Western Conference.