Canada's Lost Teams: Remembering The Vancouver Grizzlies

Brad NortonCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

Remember when there we're no  Professional Basketball Teams in Canada. I don't because well I was a baby, I was two years old when the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies we're officially drafted into the NBA.

I would have to guess that it sucked not having a professional team in a sport that you liked in your country. Especially, for Dr. James Naismith the inventor of Basketball. I'm sure he'd be happy to know that that dream became a reality in 1995.

(on a side note:The Toronto Huskies lasted about one season way back in 1947.)

Unfortunately, we lost one franchise-in 2001- the Vancouver Grizzlies were relocated to Memphis where they aren't and never have found success not to say they we're successful basketball wise in Vancouver.But, at least they we're getting good Attendance records from fans in Vancouver.

Let's go all the way back to 1995. The Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors we're about to play there first season as NBA franchises. they had already gone through the draft and everything and we're about to play there first game.

With the likes of Chris King, Byron Scott, Gerald Wilkins, and Darrick Martin to name a few. They got off to a great start by defeating the Portland TrailBlazers on the road, who finished 3rd in the Pacific Division with a record of 44-38, 92-80.

They went on to beat the Minnesota timberwolves at home 2 nights later 100-98. That was about as good as it got for the rest of the season as the grizzlies would fall to 2-19 after 21 games.

They finished their first season with a horrid 15-67 record the worst in the MidWest division and the league. Things didn't get much better next season, unless you were Shareef Abdur-Rahim who posted season highs  of 18.7 ppg and averaging at least a block a night.

Even, with the efforts of SAB the Grizzlies still finished with the NBA's worst record this time horrid+1 at 14-68. Due to a rule, I'm guessing had to do with them being in only their second year as a franchise. They could not win the draft lottery to get Wake Forest star Tim Duncan.

Instead, they we're forced to settle with the 4th pick of Antonio Daniels. They did show strides of improvement next season under new head coach Brian Hill. They finally escaped from the deep, dark that is last place in the NBA.

The Grizzlies finished their third season with a record of 19-63 to finish them 6th from last in the overall standings. Shareef Abdur-Rahim again posted season highs of 22.7 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game. Bryant Reeves the Grizzlies first ever draft pick showed improvement posting highs of 16.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

Could Bryant Reeves and Shareef Abdur-Rahim along with rookie Mike Bibby be able to pull the Grizzlies into playoff contention?

The answer is no. The Grizzlies finished the 98-99 season with an Nba worse record of 8-42. The season was cut short due to a lock out. But, Ofcourse Shareef Abdur-Rahim posted career highs of 23 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Mike Bibby averaged 13.2 ppg and 6.5 apg to go along with 1.6 spg. While, Bryant Reeves was sidelined to just 25 games due to a knee injury.

After, the lock out season it seemed as if the people of Vancouver had rejected the NBA and the Vancouver Grizzlies. As, attendance only got lower from this season on. Leading to their eventual demise in 2001 as they were relocated to Memphis.

Any hopes of trying to bring fans back to GM Place failed as 2nd overall selection of 1999 Steve Francis refused to play for any canadian team(i don't understand why they discriminate against Canada when they know nothing about it) and had to be packaged in a 3way deal involving 11 players with the Orlando Magic and Houston Rockets.

Wow, how Francis would have helped turn around this team as he earned rookie of the year honours. Well, Francis was whooping it up in Houston, it was a different story back in Vancouver as they again managed to finish last in the league with a horrid-1 record of 22-60.By this time, there was many rumours surrounding the team about a move south of the border.        

THE FINAL SEASON: In the 2000-01 season the Grizzlies showed improvement. But, still found themselves in last place at the all-star break with a record of 16-36. It seemed as though change was needed and unfortunate for Vancouver fans it wasn't good change. As owner Michael Heisley, took a trip to Memphis to discuss a deal with the city for his Franchise to relocate there.

The deal was made and it was only a couple of months now until the Grizzlies would no longer hail from the city that is Vancouver. The Grizzlies would continue play after the all star break finishing the final 30 games as the Vancouver Grizzlies with a 6-24 record. For a total record of 23-59.

In the final two games of The Battle for Canada the Raptors would sweep the Grizzlies winning both games. The Raptors ultimately won the Battle for Canada winning 7 of 11 total games.

In the final game in Vancouver on april 14th, The Grizzlies would fall to the Houston Rockets(oh, the irony) as Steve Francis was booed as frequent as possible by everyone in the stands.

Then, came the final game for Vancouver. They played the Golden State Warriors in ofcourse Golden State. They showed vancouver fans appreciation for the 6 years they spent there. By smacking around the Warriors 95-81.

The Vancouver Franchise was labelled a fail after only 6 seasons. Ultimately because of that NBA draft lottery rule that would not allow them to select Tim Duncan and then again in '99 because Steve Francis refused to play for them.

I wish the Franchise was still in Vancouver. So, I could watch the Battle for Canada which was and would be a really good rivalry. Ultimately, there will probably never be another NBA franchise in Vancouver because of the Grizzlies.