Thursday, July 3, 2014

NBA Approves Move Of Vancouver Grizzlies To Memphis

On July 3, 2001, NBA owners approve the Vancouver Grizzlies to move to Memphis, Tennessee -- just six years after the Grizzlies joined the NBA as an expansion team.

Attendance for Grizzlies games had been tepid from the start, and with a roster as bad as it gets, the Grizz saw what little fans they had spurn the team completely.

The NBA's experiment in Vancouver, which many considered the best city in all of North America, was an immense failure that many people still look back on. With the move, the Toronto Raptors became the sole NBA team in Canada.

There were several reasons, besides the financial aspect, why the team was forced to migrate to Memphis. For some, the blame rested on the decision to give Bryant "Big Country" Reeves a $65 million contract.

Not only was Reeves not a star, he was perpetually injured and wound up collecting the final years of his contract from the comfort of his sofa.

However, many people blamed the fate of the Grizzlies on Steve Francis, who the Grizzlies had drafted in 1999 with the No. 2 pick. Francis refused to play in Canada and was forced to be dealt to the Houston Rockets two months later. Francis went on to become a star in Houston and deprived the Grizzlies from having a player the could market and build around.

In Memphis, the Grizzlies spent several seasons playing at the Memphis Pyramid before a new stadium was constructed.

Even though they were now in the smallest market in the league, the team experienced a modest improvement in attendance -- mainly because they were now in a city where basketball was a big deal.

Vancouver showed the NBA that you can't just put a team anywhere; the city has to clamor for one in order for it to work.