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In 2006, Pau Gasol become the Grizzlies first All-Star.
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The 2006-07 season got off on the wrong foot- Pau Gasol’s left foot, to be exact. The team’s best player suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during the 2006 World Championships, sidelining him for the first 22 games of the NBA season.
Without Gasol, the Grizzlies started the season 5-17, effectively ending their chances at challenging for a playoff berth before the calendar even turned to 2007. The Grizzlies’ struggles ultimately led to a coaching change, as Mike Fratello was replaced after a 6-24 start by Tony Barone, Sr., who guided Memphis to a 16-36 record over the rest of the season.
Although the Grizzlies finished the season with a league-worst record of 22-60, there were individual bright spots. After returning from injury, Gasol put up career-high numbers almost across the board. Mike Miller set a franchise record with 202 three-pointers. After a slow start, Rudy Gay came on strong late in the season and was in the mix for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award. Young players like Hakim Warrick, Tarence Kinsey and Kyle Lowry gave fans hope for a bright future.
After the season ended, the Grizzlies hired highly-regarded Suns assistant coach Marc Iavaroni as the team’s new head coach, generating optimism for the 2007-08 season.
2005-06: The Story is an Unforgettable Season for Grizz Fans
Every season has a story but when you look back at the 2005-06 season, it’s hard to pick a definitive moment. Was it Head Coach Mike Fratello becoming the team’s all-time winningest coach? Pau Gasol becoming the team’s first All-Star? Mike Miller and Gasol both earning triple-doubles, and setting single-game scoring records? The team’s third straight playoff appearance? Miller winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award?
All of those events could qualify, as it was an unforgettable season for Grizzlies fans. When starting point guard Damon Stoudamire was lost in December to a season-ending knee injury, many pundits thought the Grizzlies’ playoff hopes would go down with him. But the team rallied together and reeled off 49 regular season wins, the second highest total in franchise history, and made their third straight playoff appearance.
2004-05: Changing of the Guard
Jerry West welcomes Mike Fratello to the Grizzlies.
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The 2004-05 season brought hustle-packed beginnings and the end of an era. The Grizzlies tipped off their inaugural season with a new identity that celebrated the Memphis heritage. The team also took center stage in a new home. FedExForum opened as a the state of the art arena that has the entire league talking.
Hubie Brown’s legendary 33-year NBA career came to an end early in the season. “The Czar”, Mike Fratello, stepped up as Brown's replacement. One of the most successful coaches in NBA history, Fratello, 57, ranks 19th on the all-time wins list (572) and 21st on the all-time games coached list (1,037). Coach Fratello made his mark on the season with a 40-26 record and a second trip to the Playoffs for the Grizzlies.
2003-04: The Will to Win Results in a Playoff Debut
Hubie Brown calls the Grizzlies into a huddle.
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The Grizzlies tipped off pre-season with a 7-1 record and the action was non-stop from there. By March 2004, Memphis was the hottest team in the league with a 13-2 record, an 86.7% winning percentage.
A key to the Grizzlies breakout success this season was their ability to turn the Pyramid into one of the toughest places for NBA teams to play on the road. Head Coach Hubie Brown's 10-man rotation was the talk of the NBA as the Grizzlies continued wearing down opponents game-after-game.
The Grizzlies also became known as the “Comeback Kids", rallying to win more games (14) when trailing after the third quarter than any NBA team this season. This scrappy new breed of Grizzly rocked-and-rolled their way to an impressive 50-32 season record and a Playoff debut. The 50th win of the season on Apr. 7 vs. Cleveland marked a milestone that few NBA teams have accomplished: going from 50 losses in a season to 50 wins in the next season.
2003-04 also marked the Grizzlies final season in The Pyramid Arena. The Pyramid will be remembered for many great Grizzlies moments but especially for one of the greatest fan moments in Grizzlies history, The Grizzlies Playoff debut at home. The thundering cheers and growl towels waving in unison in the 'Tomb of Doom' created an emotional experience that fans won't soon forget. 'Believe It!'.
The team accomplishments didn't stop with making the Playoffs. Shane Battier was presented with a divisional NBA Sportsmanship Award. President of Basketball Operations, Jerry West, was named the Sports Illustrated NBA Executive of the Year. And, Grizzlies Head Coach Hubie Brown became the most successful coach in Grizzlies history finishing the season at .500, at 78-78. He was also named NBA Coach of the Year.
The Grizzlies and fans alike left 2003-04 full of promise for more action to come in the new home of the Grizzlies, FedExForum, in 2005.
2001-02: Inaugural Season in Memphis Surpasses Expectations
“Beat LA!” “Beat LA!” all around the Pyramid the chant could be heard. It was December 21, 2001, and the Grizzlies faced their second match against the World Champion LA Lakers. The first time around the Grizzlies recorded a tough lost at the Staples Center, but this time the Lakers were treading on Grizzlies ground. “Beat LA!” was the battle cry and the Grizzlies answered the call. When the final shot was released the score board read, Memphis Grizzlies 114, LA Lakers 108. This was the pinnacle of a three-game winning streak for the Grizzlies and one of the many highlights of 2001-2002 season.
2001 Pre-season: On the Way Up
Now that the Grizzlies have migrated South and settled into their new den, things are looking good. So far the team has added eight new players to it roster, including two strong contenders for Rookie of the Year Shane Battier (F) and Pau Gasol (F). Also Memphians are happy to welcome former University of Memphis star Lorenzen Wright (F-C) back home.
2001: Memphis Goes to the Hoop and Scores!
With the arrival of the Grizzlies, Mid-Southerners now have major-league sports right in their backyard. At the mid-point of the 2000-01 season, Michael Heisley, the owner of the Grizzlies, began to reconsider the team's future in Vancouver. With his mind set on relocation, Heisley appealed to the NBA Board of Governors.
1997-99: Entertaining Fans - Still Learning How to Win
Success is relative. While the 1997-99 Vancouver Grizzlies weren't contenders for the Western Conference title, they did show signs of improvement and flashes of good basketball.
1995-97: Team Learns Expansion Lessons
Their first season in the NBA turned out to be a learning experience for the Grizzlies. What they learned is that they'll need to shoot better, rebound better, play better defense and score more points in order to win more games.
The NBA Settles North of the Border
The Vancouver Grizzlies joined the NBA for the 1995-96 season, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the league's two-pronged expansion into Canada. Vancouver and Toronto became the first non-U.S. cities to join the league since 1946-47.