- Location: Memphis, Tennessee, USA
- Home court: FedExForum
- G.M: Zachary Kleinman
- Coach: Taylor Jenkins
- Star: G Ja Morant
- 2021 Season: 56-26, lost in the Western Conference semifinals to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
- NBA Titles: None
- Greatest Player: C Marc Gasol
Factoid: The Grizzlies used to be one of just two franchises in Canada before moving from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001
You want to talk about loyalty? Let’s talk about the basketball fans in Memphis. When the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, the overwhelming sentiment was that the franchise would change the nickname. At last count, there are no grizzlies in Memphis and haven’t been for, well, ever.
But the Memphis fans already had an affinity for Grizzlies. That was the name of the semi-pro football team, which played in the World Football League from 1974-75.
So, the Grizzlies, or the Grizz, as they are more commonly referred to in Memphis, are here to stay. The Grizzlies averaged 15,775 fans last season, more than basketball-crazy towns like Indianapolis or Washington, D.C. More than successful franchise such as the San Antonio Spurs.
And there may never have been a better time to be a Grizzlies fan than now. The team went 56-26 in 2021-22, trying the best record in franchise history. They have Ja Morant, who many believe is the most exciting young player in the league.
The head coach, Taylor Jenkins, is as improbable a story as you’ll find in the NBA. He didn’t play college basketball at Penn but got a B.S. in economics from the prestigious Wharton School. He was an obscure assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
Notoriety came in 2019 when a scuffle broke out between the Bucks and Pistons. TV cameras caught Jenkins spring from his chair and, with clipboard in one hand, extending both arms horizontally to keep Milwaukee players on the bench. School crossing guards should have to watch it as mandatory training.
With Morant’s talent and Jenkins’s smarts, the Grizzlies are as intriguing a team as there is in the Western Conference. There won’t be a grizzly bear sighting in Tennessee but there could be a Larry O’Brien Trophy in the not to distance future.