Ball in Van? Don’t be bawlin’
The Grizzlies called Vancouver home from 1995 to 2001, and in that time, never really enjoyed any form of success. The team to put it plainly, was terrible, and most of the fingers could be pointed at management. Stu Jackson, the GM of the franchise, made terrible move after terrible move, biggest of which, was drafting a guy who looked more comfortable in fast food line, than the free throw line, Bryant ‘Big Country’ Reeves. To be fair, the Grizzlies didn’t get off to a great start to begin with. They weren’t allowed to pick a top draft pick for the first four seasons, when they needed to have a season ticket holder base of 12,500 to simply get a team, Shoppers Drug Mart had to swoop in and buy 2,500 to put them over the edge. In its first season, where they sported a winning percentage of .196, they had the the 14th best attendance in the league. The six years which they were in Vancouver, they had a prime shot at competing with the Canucks as the premium sports franchise. The Canucks sucked in that timeframe. So, the Grizzlies didn’t make sense on the court, and they didn’t make much dollars and cents in the offices back then. Fans of the game are saying that the city and its fans have learned, we’ve all grown, and today is better, today the city would not only welcome a NBA team, but would help it thrive.
Why wouldn’t you want it to work? The NBA coming off a work stoppage, is having one of its most entertaining seasons, and the playoffs have been exceptional. Another sports franchise would bring in some extra revenue, and be one more entertainment option for citizens and tourists. It would join very well run, successful sports franchises in the Canucks, the CFL Lions, and the MLS Whitecaps. The difference? The NBA lacks the parity that most other leagues enjoy, and, eventually, any new basketball franchise would become an also ran. A new team would do exceptionally well, especially when the games superstars would come to town, but how long would that last for? The league just came out of a lockout and didn’t seem to fix anything that was broken. There are currently 30 teams in the NBA, and if Vancouver were to be a new one, one of those would need to relocate. Out of those 30, 5 have a realistic chance at winning a championship year after year. The rest are playing a losers game. Who are the seven teams? LA Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls. You may want to include the Oklahoma City Thunder in that group, but they need more than just a single season in the Finals. Don’t believe me? In the last 25 years, eight teams have won the championship – Lakers, Bulls, Heat, Mavericks, Spurs, Rockets, Celtics and the Pistons. Those same eight teams were the opponents in 11 of the 25 championships. Every other team that competed in those other Championships? Only two have actually ever won titles, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Seattle Supersonics. Philly last won in 83, and Seattle last won in 1979. Seattle (now OKC) beat Washington in the finals, and Philly swept the LA Lakers.
It’s a league that’s run by big spenders, and has no rules in ensuring any kind of player loyalty. The Knicks, Bucks, Hawks, Warriors, and Blazers last won titles in the 70′s or earlier. Sure, there’s dynasties, but this is kind of ridiculous. People laugh at the CFL for having no competition, and, sure, it’s a 8 team league, but at least all of them have a chance at winning a championship. Which Bobcats, Wizards, Hawks, Timberwolves fan can say the same? Instead, how many franchises can lament the departure of a key player as he joins one of the ‘elite’ teams at a chance at winning a championship? I’d rather make a road trip out of it and watch the Portland Trailblazers or LA Lakers, than help foot the bill for mediocrity.