Turns out Memphis Grizzlies Were More Dysfunctional Than We Thought

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Turns out Memphis Grizzlies Were More Dysfunctional Than We Thought
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Here you were thinking your workplace had problems.

The Memphis Grizzlies, once the pride and joy of grind-it-out basketball, have steadily become a billboard for dysfunction. Their maladjusted environment doesn't stop at the team's decision to let head coach Lionel Hollins walk following a 56-win season, either.

Before Hollins was essentially sent packing, there was Barry Hecker, a former Grizzlies assistant who was abruptly dismissed during the NBA playoffs. Speaking with the Sporting News' Sean Deveney, Hecker recounted the events that led to his departure:

There was a big guy sitting there next to our bench. He had to be 6'4", 250 pounds. He kept standing up, and they stand up a lot there in Oklahoma City, I can understand all that. But I said to him, ‘Sir, can you please sit down in a timely fashion because I can’t see the game?’ He says, ‘Who are you?’ I said, ‘I am one of the assistant coaches.’ I told him, I understand standing up, it is exciting, you are in the front row. But he was blocking everybody.

Security eventually settled the matter, but this was only the beginning.

Upon hearing about the incident, Hollins apologized to the Thunder profusely, before getting into it with Hecker, whom Deveney writes Hollins was always hard on.

The two argued, prompting Hecker to accuse Hollins of ignorance:

I stood up and said to him, ‘Lionel, you don’t want to hear the truth. You don’t want to know what the hell is going on.’ Bottom line is, I said, ‘I am tired of the bull----, I am just going to walk out of here right now.’ I never said quit or anything.

Hollins didn't see it the same way; he thought Hecker quit. And Memphis' decaying in-house dynamic didn't end there.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Hecker can be seen taking notes here.

In the interview, Hecker recalled butting heads with then-assistant coach Dave Joerger, Hollins arguing with management over the Rudy Gay trade and the shady background of the Grizzlies' coaching change.

"I told Lionel two years ago, I said, ‘Lionel, this (guy) is going to get your job one day if you don’t watch yourself,’" Hecker explained of Joerger, per Deveney.

This is the most interesting revelation of Hecker's account. Hollins was essentially shown the door after the Grizzlies won a franchise-best 56 games. How does that happen?

Rumors of distrust breeding between the organization and Hollins began churning as soon as Gay was gone, but early last spring it appeared the two parties would reach an amicable agreement.

The Grizzlies, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, wanted Hollins back. A return appeared imminent.

"There's no question," Hollins told Shelburne, when asked if he hoped to be back with the Grizzlies. "When you build something, you want to see it through to the fruition of it all."

The opportunity to see it through never presented itself. Memphis and Hollins went their separate ways, citing "philosophical differences" as the reason, per The Commercial Appeal's Ronald Tillery.

That brings us to Joerger, the assistant-turned-successor.

Two years is quite some time to be lusting after Hollins' job, and it makes you wonder what stunts, if any, he himself pulled in his quest to reach the top.

None of this matters much anymore, though. What's done is done. Not to mention the Grizzlies have bigger problems to tackle.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Marc Gasol remains out indefinitely with an MCL sprain and according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the team has also lost Quincy Pondexter for the season.

Injuries to key players have left the Grizzlies at .500, one game off the Western Conference's playoff bubble. With no relief in sight, chances of them missing the postseason are good, if not probable.

Facing a campaign gone awry, there's no telling how the suddenly unpredictable, scheming Grizzlies will react. On the surface, they're cool, calm and collected. Everything about them certainly seemed calculated and meticulously planned last season.

Beneath that composed exterior, however, there apparently lies layers upon layers of dysfunction, deceit and general uncertainty.

Sure seems like now is a good time to be thankful you're not employed by the Grizzlies, doesn't it?

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