The Grizzlies franchise was known as one of the worst franchises in sports during their six seasons inVancouver. They had a record of 101-359, no playoff appearances, and finished dead last in the Midwest Division of the Western Conference five of their six years inVancouver.
In fact, the franchise’s performance was so poor that when they drafted Steve Francis with the second overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft he refused to play there and immediately demanded a trade.
Needless to say the team was sold and subsequently moved toMemphis, and in 2001 the city witnessed the Memphis Grizzlies’ first NBA game when the Pistons visited the Pyramid. The team lost by 10 points, and would lose their first eight games before registering their first win at home against the Cavaliers.
That first season was a rough one for Grizzlies fans, as the team went 23-59 and did not resemble the grit and grind team that we recognize today. Yet, there was still hope that this ragamuffin franchise, lead by owner Michael Heisley and known for years of sports futility, could turn things around and give fans a successful franchise to support.
So, have the Grizzlies been a success in their 11 years in Memphis?
Judging from the last two seasons it is hard to say no. Becoming the fourth eight seed to oust the top seed in the conference playoffs last season and pulling within a game of the Western Conference Finals is a huge deal. Add to it the 37-25 record and playoff birth this year’s team has, and you get the feeling that the Grizzlies franchise has turned the proverbial corner from being a laughing stock to legit contender.
However, what about those laughing stock seasons before the magical one of 2010-2011? Fans seem to have forgot the four consecutive losing seasons from 2005-2010 (all they did was lose my entire collegiate career). Also, the fact that the Grizzlies had a playoff record of 0-12 after being swept in the first round of their first three playoff appearances seems to be a distant memory.
Now do not get me wrong. Four playoff appearances in 10 years (and at the end of this regular season, five appearances in 11 years) is a major accomplishment, especially when you take into consideration that the franchise made it to a grand total of zero playoffs while inVancouver. Yet, 20 other franchises have made it to the playoffs more times than the Grizzlies in that time span. And Memphis has only made it to the second round of the playoffs once in the past decade (granted it was last year, but one time is one time).
What about the Grizzlies’ 386-496 overall record and .438 winning percentage since coming to Memphis? Or how about the fact that in 11 seasons, with 11 different teams, the Grizzlies have a total of just three All-Star selections (Pau Gasol in 2006, Zach Randolph in 2010, and Marc Gasol in 2012)?
So again I ask have the Grizzlies been a success in their 11 years inMemphis.
The answer, at least for now, is yes. They are winning games, inspiring people to write songs, and have a legitimate chance at making the Conference Finals.
And in our “what have you done for me lately” society, recent success trumps past failures every time.
CJ Hurt covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for live tweets from FedExForum.
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