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Here's how the Grizzlies came to Memphis

After four seasons on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Grizzlies have been at their current home just steps off Beale Street since fall 2004.
Credit: AP
Memphis Grizzlies fans hold commemorative towels that read "We Here" in the second half during Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors Sunday, May 1, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In 2001, having a "big four" sports team was relatively new to the Mid-South. 

At the time, the Memphis area had minor league and college teams in hockey, football, basketball and football.

After no playoff appearances during their six years as the Vancouver Grizzlies from 1995 to 2001, ESPN reported Seattle billionaire John McCaw Jr. sold the team to businessman Michael Heisley

Moving from Vancouver to Memphis

At the time the $160 million sale went through, Heisley said he expected to keep the team in Vancouver, the New York Times reported. With more than $40 million in losses during the 2000-01 season, he obtained permission from the NBA to explore a move, according to the Times. 

ESPN reported there were six cities in which Heisley was considering moving the team—Las Vegas, Anaheim, St. Louis, New Orleans, Louisville and "to a certain extent, Memphis." 

According to ESPN, a group of investors led by AutoZone founder J.R. Hyde and his wife, Barbara, helped with corporate efforts in the Memphis area to attract the Grizzlies. FedEx supported the move, saying they'd back building what's now the FedExForum, which cost $250 million to build. 

When the team moved from Vancouver in 2001 (after six seasons north of the border), they played their games at the Pyramid arena. This lasted from 2001 to 2004. In fall 2004, they moved to their current home—the FedExForum. 

More new owners

The team returned to the playoffs in 2011 and took down the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs as the 8th seed in the first round before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games.

A group led by Robert Pera bought the team in 2012 for $377 million, the New York Times reported. Under Pera's ownership, the Grizzlies have appeared in the playoffs seven times, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. 

After rebuilding years from 2007 to 2010 and a decline from 2017 to 2019, Pera restructured the team's front office, bringing in Jason Wexler as team president and promoting Zach Kleiman to general manager/EVP of Basketball Operations. 

RELATED: Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins is ready to hit the ground running

The lead-up to this season

Taylor Jenkins was hired as the Grizzlies' head coach in 2019. Weeks later, the team picked Ja Morant out of Murray State with the second overall pick in the draft. 

RELATED: Memphis Grizzlies have selected Ja Morant with the 2nd pick in the NBA draft

After the 2019-20 season was paused due to COVID-19, the team was invited to play in the last eight games of the regular season in the NBA Bubble in Orlando. They finished as the 9th seed in the Western Conference, falling in a play-in game against the Portland Trail Blazers. 

RELATED: Despite play-in game loss, Grizzlies "proud" of their accomplishments in Grizz Next Gen's first season

Morant, who averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 assists during his rookie campaign, became the first Grizzlies player since Pau Gasol in 2001-02 to win the Rookie of the Year award. He received 99 of the 100 first-place votes, with the only other vote going to Zion Williamson, the Associated Press reported.

RELATED: Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant named NBA’s Rookie of the Year

Behind a 38-34 record in the condensed 2020-21 season, the Grizzlies qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17, beating the Golden State Warriors in the play-in round. However, the Grizzlies lost to the Utah Jazz in five games.

RELATED: Grizzlies season ends with 126-110 loss to Jazz in Game Five

During the 2021-22 season, the Grizzlies hit several franchise records, including setting a league record for the largest margin of victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder, having Morant be the first Grizzlies player to be named an All-Star Game starter and tying a franchise record for regular-season wins with 56. 

Their 56-26 2021-22 regular season record was the second-best in the NBA.