The only former professional basketball team to play in Canada was the Toronto Huskies, who played a single season in 1946 – 1947 before folding. Attempts had been made by Nelson Skalbania, a local entrepreneur, to get an NBA franchise to Vancouver in the 1980s, but had failed. Arthur Griffiths, owner of the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL) through Northwest Sports Enterprises, announced in February 1993 that he hoped to bring an NBA franchise to Vancouver. Griffiths was developing a privately owned 20,000-seat arena for the Canucks in downtown Vancouver, which was scheduled for completion for the 1995 – 1996 season. The Toronto Raptors were awarded an expansion franchise for that season on 30 September 1993. On 14 February 1994, the NBA’s Expansion Committee gave a preliminary approval for Vancouver, with full approval being granted by the Board of Governors on 27 April. Both franchises paid a fee of US$125 million, up from $32.5 million paid during the 1988 – 1989 expansion. The Grizzlies became the NBA’s 29th franchise.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim was selected third overall by the Grizzlies in the 1996 Draft. The Grizzlies also traded for Anthony Peeler and George Lynch from the Los Angeles Lakers on 16 July 1996. Abdur-Rahim made an immediate impact playing for the Grizzlies, becoming the team’s leading scorer while setting a franchise record of 18.7 points per game (ppg). He finished third in balloting for the NBA Rookie of the Year and was picked for the NBA All-Rookie First Team. By the end of the 1996 – 1997 season, Abdur-Rahim led the team in scoring on 33 occasions, rebounding on 23 occasions. Despite these acquisitions, Brian Winters was removed as head coach after 43 games of the 1996 – 1997 season, and replaced for the remainder of the season by Stu Jackson. The Grizzlies went on to win only 14 games that season, again the worst in the whole league.
Financially, the lockout that occurred in 1998 was the turning point for the team. Attendance plummeted from a league average of 16,108 in the 1997 – 1998 season to 13,899 in the 1999 – 2000 season, which was the third-lowest in the league. Orca Bay started losing money on operations, in part because of a weak Canadian dollar.
Griffiths sold Orca Bay to Seattle-based John McCaw, Jr. in 1995 and 1996. In September 1999, McCaw announced the sale of the Grizzlies, but not the arena or the Canucks, to NHL’s St. Louis Blues-owner Bill Laurie for US$200 million. He stated that he intended to move the Grizzlies to St. Louis, but the transaction was stopped by the NBA.
Instead, McCaw sold the team to Chicago-based Michael Heisley for US$160 million. At the time he stated that he intended to keep the team in Vancouver, but immediately started a process to find a suitable relocation city in the US. Cities considered for relocation of the team included Memphis, Nashville, Las Vegas, New Orleans, St. Louis, Anaheim, San Diego, Buffalo and Louisville. Despite the need for the construction of a new venue to house the team on a permanent basis, Memphis was announced as the recipient city (pending league approval) on 26 March 2001. The NBA Board of Governors approved the move on 4 July 2001.
The Vancouver Grizzlies relocation to Memphis was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Vancouver Grizzlies to move the basketball team from the Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia, to the U.S. city of Memphis, Tennessee. The team began play as the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2001 – 2002 season. It was the first of three National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise moves between 2001 and 2008, and the third of four major league teams to relocate from Canada to the United States between 1995 and 2005.
The Vancouver Grizzlies were a Canadian professional basketball team based in Vancouver, British Columbia. They were part of the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1995, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada. Following the 2000 – 2001 season, the team relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, United States, and are known as the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies played their home games at General Motors Place for the entirety of their 6 seasons in Vancouver.
Vancouver – Memphis
1995 – Present / National Basketball Association
2001 – Present / Memphis Grizzlies
1995 – 2001 / Vancouver Grizzlies
Grizzlies – When Vancouver was awarded an expansion franchise in 1994 to begin play the following season, the team’s owners had tentative plans to name the team the Mounties. The Royal Mounted Canadian Police and fans alike objected, so team officials resumed their search for a name. The local newspaper sponsored a name-the-team contest, which club officials monitored before choosing Grizzlies, an indigenous species to the area, over Ravens.
NBA Championships 0
2004 – Present / FedExForum
2001 – 2004 / Pyramid Arena
1995 – 2001 / General Motors Place
2012 – Present / Robert J. Pera
2000 – 2012 / Michael Heisley
1995 – 2000 / Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment
Who is the greatest Vancouver Grizzlies?
1995 – Present / Grizz
*Blue is this team’s history