The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis

From Vancouver Failure to Southern Success

  • Author(s): Łukasz Muniowski
  • Series: Sports & Popular Culture
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2023-10-01
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Printed Case: Price $39.95 | Buy Now

Following the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and the success and celebrity of the Dream Team, the NBA became a global sensation. Around the same time, and despite ardent warnings from his parents, Arthur Griffiths purchased an NBA team that would become the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies. Who better to restore the Dream City, he thought, than the NBA?

Expansion franchises went to Vancouver and Toronto—the Canadian cities of choice as the NBA grew its international brand. But while Toronto thrived under the rising star of Vince Carter, Vancouver floundered under serial mismanagement. Six seasons wasted, the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, where they clawed their way to victories both on the court and in the hearts of the city’s eager fanbase. More than two decades later, the Memphis Grizzlies continue to win, claiming NBA records for defeating, as an eight-seed club, the one-seed San Antonio Spurs in the 2011 playoffs (only the fourth franchise to have done so) and for defeating, in 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder 152–73, the largest margin of victory in NBA history.

So why did the NBA fail in Vancouver but thrive in Memphis? This is the question Łukasz Muniowski seeks to answer in The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis: From Vancouver Failure to Southern Success. In his pursuit, he explores how the Vancouver Grizzlies came to be, the team’s evolution and eventual relocation to Memphis, the success the Grizzlies found there, and the differences between the two phases of this NBA franchise.

Rooted strongly in media coverage of the Grizzlies franchise in both Vancouver and Memphis, The Grizzlies Migrate to Memphis offers a thoughtful blend of storytelling and analysis that will interest scholars and NBA enthusiasts alike.

Łukasz Muniowski is an assistant professor at Szczecin University in Poland. He is the author of four books on the history of the NBA, including most recently The Sixth Man: A History of the NBA’s Best Off the Bench.