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  • Writer's pictureKurtis Tatkenhorst

July 3- The Vancouver Grizzlies relocate to Memphis

2001- On this day in Sports History, the Vancouver Grizzlies officially moved their franchise to Memphis to become the Memphis Grizzlies. On July 3, 2001, the NBA Board of Governors approved the move of the franchise to Memphis. In six seasons in Vancouver, the team failed to have hardly any success. It was the first time that an NBA franchise relocated to a different city since the Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985.

In the early 1990’s the NBA decided to take the success the league was experiencing in the US into Canada. They added two Canadian expansion teams prior to the 1995 season. The Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies became the 28th and 29th teams in the league. They were the first NBA teams to play in Canada since 1946-47 when the Toronto Huskies played one season in the NBA.

Like all expansion teams, the Vancouver Grizzlies struggled in their early years. However, they were never able to really build any success. They had the worst record in the NBA for half of their seasons. They never had a record better than the fourth worst record in the NBA in their other three seasons. In six seasons in Vancouver, the Grizzlies went 101-359 which was the worst record of all NBA teams in the six year span. Meanwhile, the Raptors made the playoffs twice in their first six years. The Grizzlies also struggled maintaining their home game attendance. The first year, they averaged 17,000 fans at home games, but that fell to under 14,000 in their last two years.

After the team’s six seasons in Vancouver were determined to be a failure, the franchise officially moved to Memphis on this day in 2001. The Grizzlies were able to turn it around

and have some success pretty quickly. Their third season in Memphis, they won 50 games, which was twice as many as they ever won in a single season in Vancouver. They also made the 2004 NBA playoffs for their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

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Schwartz, Perry. “NBA: a Case Study of the Vancouver Grizzlies.” Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report, 3 Oct. 2017

“Memphis Grizzlies Franchise Index.” Basketball Reference

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