For the Memphis Grizzlies, their 40-42 finish in 2009-10 was a big step up. The Grizzlies added 16 more games to the win column, moved up one notch to 4th place in the very tough Southwest Division, and stayed in contention for a playoff slot until close to the end of the season. Can Memphis continue the upward momentum in 2010-11? The ability is there. Five Grizzlies starters made the All-Star ballot: forwards Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay, guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo, and center Marc Gasol. In the past, the Memphis bench was about as weak as the starters were strong, but Coach Lionel Hollins can now turn to a reenergized backup center in Hasheem Thabeet and an already energized Tony Allen from the Boston Celtics. And you can help out with Grizz fan energy in the stands! Get your FedExForum tickets and cheer for your Memphis Grizzlies now!
In 1946, the Toronto Huskies were the first professional basketball team in Canada. The team was a member of the Basketball Association of America, the predecessor of the NBA. In 1995, the NBA expanded north with two new teams, the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. The Vancouver Grizzlies locked up Brian Winters to be their first head coach. Winters was a long time assistant under Lenny Wilkens, the NBA's all-time winningest coach. The inaugural pick of the Grizzlies was the seven-foot center out of Oklahoma State, Bryant Reeves, aptly referred to as "Big Country."
The team has struggled in the NBA since it joined the league. Expansion is tough, and the Grizzlies learned that first hand. Despite early draft picks and coaching changes, the team struggled in Vancouver. So, in 2001, the Grizzlies packed up and moved to Memphis, Tennessee. The relocated basketball team found itself in a new city and in a new arena, FedExForum. The downtown arena seats 18,000 fans and is located less than one block south of historic Beale Street. The designers of the stadium were interested in building an arena that could capture the energy and excitement of downtown Memphis and bring it inside a basketball arena and entertainment venue.
Memphis is also home to the Memphis Tigers, who are always competitors in basketball in Conference USA, and have the potential to pull a big upset come tournament time. The team often draws tough out-of-conference opponents, such as Illinois, Wake Forest, and Missouri, making tickets tough to come by. The city of Memphis also hosts the Memphis Redbirds, a minor league baseball team in the St. Louis Cardinals system, a flourishing rugby team, the Memphis Blues, and the NFL's Tennessee Oilers, now known as the Tennessee Titans, playing in Memphis since 1997.