Remember the Vancouver Grizzlies?
I miss the Grizzlies. I mean, I miss the idea of the Grizzlies. I know I'm in a Canadian non-basketball market, and we kind of didn't put up too much of a fight when they went, but I miss having another sport to follow here.
Vancouver is a great sports town. When we have a team to follow that's high profile we are rabid fans. If the amount of angry, ecstatic, and neutral callers to the local sports radio station are any indication. We live and die by how out teams perform.
Vancouver sports is really a two-dish town though. Canucks and Lions are our main courses. We do have other sports teams to follow though, from a very successful Junior hockey team (The Giants), the Canadian's Baseball Team and a soccer team The White Caps AKA The Eighty Sixers.
But they pale in comparison to the coverage of the big two.
I think the Griz were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Vancouver wasn't ready for the team when it came in 1995. Vancouver is a bigger place now, more people live here, and they are more willing to have the world looking at us.
There was something special about the time BBall lived here in Van. For a few hours on game night the world would be watching. We would be in focus as a contender. Well maybe not a real contender, but a part of the magic that is the NBA.
I remember what the games were like: 18,000 Roaring fans in GM Place, just like the Canucks games. Those annoying boom sticks that we would slam together whenever the other team was at the free throw line. Loud and proud we all were of that team, even though we lost. I think in the 5 years they were here, they were 115-359! OUCH.
But there is nothing quite like the sport of Basketball. Being so close to the floor and watching these modern giants move gracefully at eye level. The squeak of shoes on a glossy surface, just added to the mystique of the moment. I miss that.
Though the Grizzlies weren't a successful NBA team, by far, they really had a good thing going here. We had another team to worry about and different players to berate. A ticket was somewhat reasonable to buy, and you could see modern superstars of the sport on a regular basis.
I remember when Chicago came to town. One of the final seasons Jordan played. The tickets were impossible to buy for that one. A friend of mine had managed to get tickets very early on, and was all ready to head out to the game. I had never seen someone so excited to see a sporting event. He actually went out an bought a brand new $1500 SLR camera for the event. He had great seats and couldn't wait to see the superstar eye level and take a winning picture, a memento of that moment, Jordan in all his final playing glory. It was a feeling I could share with him.
I went to about eight games during their tenure here and I loved all of it. The wins, the losses. It was a great Vancouver experience.
So why did the Grizzlies go? Mismanagement ruined this team here, not fan support. I think with the right owners they could have remained in Vancouver. We see problems like this in every new market in the states where hockey gets plugged in. If you have an ownership dedicated to making a winning team, the team will be successful, even if it doesn't win right away.
For hockey in the states, they have the money, but not the fans. In Canada, and especially Vancouver, we often don't have the money, but we have the fans. I think Vancouver is starting to break the Canadian mold when it comes to town pride.
We used to shy away from the spotlight, like all good Canadians. We now seem to relish in the fact people want to live here and play here. With the Lions, the Canucks, and the coming Olympics we are showing to Vancouver and North America that it's a great place and time for sports here .
So what does this all mean? Well I think it means we're ready in Vancouver. We're ready for another team. I know it's just a pipe dream here after the Grizzlies have left, but it's still something to strive for. They moved to Memphis, but remember that we actually have Grizzly bears here and that's why they are called that.
The Grizzlies made a mistake betting on a player called "Big Country" but I think this City and our big country can use another Professional sports team to cheer and jeer.
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