This isn’t the first time the Memphis Grizzlies have had a controversial coaching change, but this one might be the most painful. Once upon a time, Memphis fired Lionel Hollins after their first Conference Finals appearance, and right after, they fired Dave Joerger who did well with the Grizzlies as well, at one point having a 2-1 lead against the eventual 2015 Championship Warriors team.
Each of those coaches always stuck up for their team. Lionel Hollins is an example when everyone counted Memphis out against the top-seeded Spurs in 2011. Joerger had an emotional press conference after being swept by the Spurs in the first round in 2016, due to all their injuries and lack of depth. Fizdale stook up for his team back in May 2017, when they weren’t getting calls because no-one gives them the same respect, thus coining the phrase “Take That For Data”.
This past Sunday night, the Grizzlies lost their 8th straight to the Brooklyn Nets, and their 7th consecutive home loss. The Grizzlies are now 0-7 without Mike Conley, and they are desperate for a win. So desperate, in fact, that Fizdale benched their best player Marc Gasol, in hopes that the second unit might eke out a win over the Nets to end their losing streak and that decision proved costly.
At the press conference, where Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace introduced JB Bickerstaff as interim head coach, Wallace revealed there had been issues with Fizdale and Gasol, which gave the assumption that perhaps there are more deeper issues that we aren’t aware of.
The blame does not all (if any) fall on Fizdale. He is a terrific coach, a player’s coach loved by all his former players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade who stuck up for him on twitter. He was their assistant coach in their days in Miami.
But what does this mean for Memphis though? Ever since letting the “Grindfather” Tony Allen, and Zach Randolph (“Z-Bo”) go, their beloved former players, Memphis knew they would pay for it. Of course age had caught up with them and it was either their contracts or the younger players contracts. Now Memphis is in a tight (and awkward) situation where their best player perhaps just got their coach fired, their point guard is injured resulting in 7 straight losses, a $100-million dollar contract to Chandler Parsons who has under performed, and the young players who are still trying to develop.
Memphis can only hope that they start racking up wins quick before their two best players start consider going elsewhere.
As a Grizzlies team attendant myself, I can say the GrindHouse is a lot more fun to be in when the Grizzlies are winning. We as Memphians don’t have all the glamour and attention as your LA’s, New York’s, and Miami’s of the world, but what we do have is heart and any true Grizz fan will tell you that no matter our situation, we will ride with our team. Take that for data. All Heart.