For some franchises, playoff runs aren’t the only concern, Sonics’ fans know that now more than ever. Grizzlies’ fans are beginning to understand it too, it was reported today that the team will be sold, but not moved. This is a positive thing considering the news earlier in the year that the team would be sold to an unnamed bidder and Larry Ellison. Had that purchase been allowed, the team would have been moved. Instead, Robert Pera will purchase the team, and keep Memphis right where it belongs.
These recent incidents aren’t the first problems for the Grizzlies. Current owner Michael Heisley bought the team in 2000 and relocated them from Vancouver to Memphis. In 2006, a group that included Christian Laettner was supposed to purchase the 70% of Heisley’s controlling stake, but the deal collapsed and chaos ensued. The Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol after the deal fell through, and the championships Gasol won in 2009 and 2010 didn’t help as evidence of the talent the Grizzlies let go.
Even still, Memphis found ways to improve with young and athletic stars like Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. They beat the Spurs in last year’s playoffs, and things started to look like they had come full circle. Even after blowing a game seven in this year’s playoffs to the Clippers, the Grizzlies have established themselves as a playoff team with plenty of talent for years to come.
Their purchase signifies a changing in the guard of ownership. Pera is 34 while Heisley is 75. Heisley’s spending tactics have long been criticized, and maybe a fresh new owner is exactly what a raw and nubile team like Memphis needs. The Grizzlies have gone from irrelevant to consistent, and hopefully, their imminent sale will only improve an already solid franchise.