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A franchise with Canadian origins, the Memphis Grizzlies came into fruition in 195 as part of an NBA expansion into Canada. Known then as the Vancouver Grizzlies, team they joined the NBA along with the Toronto Raptors. The common early struggles of an expansion team, coupled with financial difficulties, forced the sale of the team after just six seasons. Their best record in Vancouver was 23-59 in 2000-2001. The new owner would move the team to Memphis, Tennessee.
The first of the major sports leagues to establish a team in Memphis, this NBA team began play in its new home in 2001. Picking up Pau Gasol from Atlanta following the draft and acquiring Shane Battier and Jason Williams, the Grizzlies were putting a formidable team on the floor. Just two seasons later they advanced to the playoffs for the first time in team history. They would make it three consecutive seasons, but never earned a win, being swept in the first round each time.
Another four years would go by with Memphis on the outside of the postseason tournament looking in. In the second full season with Lionel Hollins as head coach, the team responded with a playoff berth and a series win, knocking out San Antonio in six games. A tough Western Conference Semifinals against Oklahoma City sent the Grizzlies home in seven games. However, this sparked a slew of playoff appearances. The Grizzlies would make the playoffs the next six straight seasons and advanced to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. Bounced in four straight by the Spurs, this is the furthest that Memphis has ever advanced.
Today’s team is in a rebuilding/transition mode. Missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, a new head coach will be appointed for the 2019-2020 season. A lineup that features Mike Conley, Avery Bradley, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson, Jr, and Jonas Valanciunas was bitten by the injury bug last year. There is hope in Tennessee that a healthy team may be able to surprise everyone and perform well enough to make it back to the playoffs. Still hungry for the first Division title, Conference title, and NBA Championship, the Grizzlies fans cheer on their team every night.
This young franchise has had the privilege of calling many great NBA players Grizzlies. Some of these greats include Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, and Rudy Gay. Click here for additional information about the Memphis Grizzlies.