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|2011–12 Memphis Grizzlies season|
|Team colors||Navy, Beale Street Blue, Smoke Blue, Yellow
|General manager||Chris Wallace|
|Head coach||Lionel Hollins|
|D-League affiliate||Reno Bighorns|
The Memphis Grizzlies is a professional basketball team based in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. The team is part of the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Along with the Toronto Raptors, the Grizzlies were established in 1995 as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. The team originated that year in Vancouver, British Columbia and relocated to Memphis in 2001. The team's majority owner is Michael Heisley, who controls a 95% share of the franchise; the remaining 5% is controlled by several local owners, including AutoZone founder J. R. ("Pitt") Hyde, his wife Barbara Hyde, equity manager Staley Cates, and former NBA player and University of Memphis point guard Elliot Perry.
While two other teams in Tennessee (Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators) in the four major North American sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) play in Nashville, the Grizzlies are the only team currently to play in Memphis.
The Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets both applied with the NBA to relocate to Memphis on the same day, March 26, 2001. The Grizzlies' request was granted. Memphis became the Easternmost city in the Western Conference. By the time the Grizzlies relocated, Memphis-based company FedEx hoped the team would change its name to the Memphis Express. The NBA quickly quashed that idea, ruling that they would not allow teams to be named for corporations. Although not related, Memphis also had a professional football team of the same name in the WFL that folded with the league in 1975.
In the 2001 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks drafted Pau Gasol as the 3rd overall pick, who was traded to the Grizzlies. After the Grizzlies' first season in Memphis, Gasol won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. The Grizzlies also drafted Shane Battier, who quickly became an unofficial spokesman for the team and a fan favorite. However, despite the strong draft class, general manager Billy Knight was let go. After Knight's departure and the 2001–02 season, the team hired former Los Angeles Laker and Hall of Famer Jerry West as general manager in 2002, who later received the 2003–04 NBA Executive of the Year Award. After West's arrival the team was changed a great deal from Knight's team, with the removal of Sidney Lowe as head coach after 0–8 start to the season and a great deal of player movement, with players such as Mike Miller and James Posey becoming vital to the team's success. During the 2002–03 season, Hubie Brown was hired to coach the Grizzlies. Brown won the NBA Coach of the Year Award during the next season when the Grizzlies made the NBA playoffs for the first time in team history in 2004 as the sixth seed in the Western Conference in a drastic change from being perennially one of the worst teams in the NBA.
However, Brown stepped down as head coach during the 2004–05 season. At the time of his resignation, the Grizzlies had a losing record but West was able to hire TNT analyst and former coach Mike Fratello to replace Brown. The Grizzlies' record improved and the team advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season. However, the Grizzlies were swept out in the first round again, this time by the Phoenix Suns. After the season, which ended with anger between Fratello and many of the players, namely Bonzi Wells and Jason Williams, the team had an active 2005 offseason in which they revamped the team and added veterans. While the Grizzlies lost Wells, Williams, Stromile Swift, and James Posey, they acquired Damon Stoudamire, Bobby Jackson, Hakim Warrick, and Eddie Jones. They made the playoffs for the third consecutive year as well.
With their record they had the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and would face the Dallas Mavericks, who swept the Grizzlies in 4 games. Following the 2006 NBA Draft, Jerry West traded Shane Battier to the Houston Rockets for their first round pick Rudy Gay and Stromile Swift. Before the 2006–07 season, they suffered a blow when Gasol broke his left foot while playing for Spain in the World Championships. The Grizzlies started the season 5–17 without Gasol, and then went 1–7 while he was limited to about 25 minutes per game. At that point, Fratello was fired and replaced by Tony Barone, Sr. as interim coach. Barone was the team's player personnel director and had never coached an NBA game though he had coached at the collegiate level for both Creighton and Texas A&M being named coach of the year in their conferences three times during his tenure. Grizzlies finished the 2006–07 season with a league's worst 22–60, and Jerry West announced resignation from his position as the team's general manager shortly after the end of the regular season. The team also hired highly touted Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni to be the team's new head coach. Despite the last place finish, the Grizzlies, who held the best chance of landing the first pick in a draft, ended up with the fourth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. With this pick, the Grizzlies selected Mike Conley, Jr..
On June 18, 2007, the Grizzlies named former Boston Celtics GM Chris Wallace as the team's General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations, replacing the retired West. A few days later, they hired former Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic head coach Johnny Davis, longtime NBA assistant coach Gordon Chiesa, and the head coach of the 2007 NBA Development League champion Dakota Wizards, David Joerger, as the team's new assistant coaches. Gene Bartow, a Memphis basketball legend, was named the Grizzlies' President of Basketball Operations on August 16, 2007. On February 1, 2008, Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks.
On January 22, 2009, head coach Marc Iavaroni was fired and replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach Johnny Davis. To replace Iavaroni, Lionel Hollins was named the Grizzlies' head coach on January 25, 2009.
On June 25, 2009, with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, Memphis selected Hasheem Thabeet, then selected DeMarre Carroll with the 27th overall pick. On September 9, 2009, the Grizzlies signed free agent Allen Iverson to a single year, $3.5 million deal. He only played three games (none in Memphis) before he left for "personal problems." He was then waived by the Grizzlies. Following Iverson's departure, the Grizzlies improved. With new acquisition Zach Randolph playing at an all-star level, Marc Gasol's improvement and a commitment to defense, the Grizzlies were in playoff contention for much of the 2009-10 NBA season, before finishing 10th in the West, 40–42. Going into the 2010–2011 season the Grizzlies celebrated the tenth year of basketball in Memphis. The season started with tremendous enthusiasm and fan support in the Memphis area. Although the Grizzlies and their fans were celebrating the tenth season the Grizzlies were also cheering for the unexpected 8th spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. They finished with a 46–36 record.
The Grizzlies found their way back into the post-season for the first time in five years in the 2010-11 NBA season after a 101–96 home victory over the Sacramento Kings on April 8, 2011. While in the playoff hunt in February 2011, the Grizzlies traded Hasheem Thabeet, DeMarre Carroll, and a protected future first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Shane Battier and Ishmael Smith.
The team became known locally and nationally for its "Grit and Grind"-style of basketball which means disruptive defense through high pressure on the ball (they were the team with the most steals per game in 2010–11) and inside-out offense (they were the highest scoring team in the paint also). The Grizzlies achieved several firsts in franchise history during the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Entering the playoffs as an eighth seed, the team won their first playoff game in franchise history on April 17, 2011 with a 101–98 victory on the road against the top seeded San Antonio Spurs. Memphis then won their first home playoff game when they beat the Spurs 91–88 on April 23, 2011. Finally, on April 29, the team won their first playoff series when they beat the Spurs in game 6, 99–91 to win the series 4 games to 2. This was only the fourth time in NBA history that an 8 seed defeated a 1 seed, and only the second time in a best-of-seven series (the first two were in a best-of-five series). The Grizzlies' historic season came to an end after the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated them in game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.
The Grizzlies found their way back into the post-season for the second time in six years in the 2011-12 NBA season after a 103–91 home victory over the New Orleans Hornets on April 18, 2012. They finished the 2011-2012 season with a 41-25 record, 4th in the Western Conference. However, they were eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games.
On June 11th, 2012, sources told ESPN.com that Michael Heisley has an agreement in principle to sell the Memphis Grizzlies to communications technology magnate Robert J. Pera, who at 34 has a spot on Forbes' list of the 10 youngest billionaries in the world.
The purchase price is in the $350 million range, sources said. A formal announcement to publicize the agreement between the parties is expected soon with NBA Board of Governors approval then required before Pera can be officially installed as successor to Heisley, who recently turned 75.
Memphis Grizzlies roster
The Grizzles appear on television on the cable channel SportSouth, owned and operated by Fox Sports Net as a sister station to Fox Sports Tennessee. The TV crew is Pete Pranica on commentary, Brevin Knight or Sean Tuohy on color analysis, and Rob Fischer on sideline reporting.
Grizz is the official mascot of the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA. He was first introduced in 1995 when the team was known as the Vancouver Grizzlies. Grizz was named 2011 NBA Mascot of the Year.
The Grizzlies launched a program called "Friends of Grizz", with donations and proceedings going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
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