Rumours are flying. They are the kind of rumours that make my heart beat fast, put insta-butterflies in my stomach and make me giddy like a school girl. It seems there’s a real possibility that Vancouver could get a second chance with the NBA. I’ve been singing about this from my soap box for years (seriously, check my archives. I’m like a broken record)… but I’m not giving up yet.
Vancouver was robbed of our NBA team in 2001. As fans of a team and a sport we love, we were heart broken and felt utterly ripped off when the Grizz booted it to Memphis. Dear David Stern, please give us another chance at the rodeo.
Here’s why I truly believe that we can make an NBA team work in Vancouver this time around:
1) The Canadian dollar wasn’t even close to measuring up against the American dollar when the Grizzlies came into the NBA. Now, it’s as close to par as you can get and it doesn’t look like there’s much chance it will falter again soon. We have money in this city. In fact, many of us would like to spend it on NBA tickets. I swear. Give me a team and take my money. The financial situation in Vancouver is much more viable now than it was during the Grizzlies era.
2) There’s never been a shortage of fan support or game attendance here. Vancouver loves basketball. Even when the Grizzlies had the worst record in the league, the building was packed for every game. Lately, I’ve been watching games being played in places like Milwaukee and Memphis, where the arenas are pretty much empty every night. It’s sad. In Vancouver, we sell out pre-season games. We did it before the Grizzlies in the early ’90s when the Seattle Super Sonics came up to play and we have done it in recent years with Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns giving us an opportunity to watch some live NBA action.
3) Vancouver was able to showcase itself as a world-class city during the 2010 Olympic Games last February. This must have impressed the NBA. I’d like to think that even dinks like Steve Francis would be happy to play here now that we’ve shown the world what we’ve got. Let’s find some players who want to be here. I guarantee you there are lots of them now. Plus, David Stern has said that he regrets what happened with the Grizzlies in Vancouver deeply, calling it his largest regret in 27 years as commissioner. He has even been quoted as saying that, “the worst trade in NBA history is Vancouver to Memphis.” I couldn’t agree more.
4) The Griffiths family, who worked so hard to bring the Grizzlies to Vancouver, had to turn it over to Seattle businessman John McCaw because of their financial struggles. This time, the group interested in bringing the NBA to Vancouver is led by successful businessman and Canucks owner, Francesco Aquilini. He obviously understands what it takes to run a successful franchise in this city. Rumour has it that the current wait for Canucks seasons tickets is seven years. Games are consistently sold out. Unlike the Griffiths family or John McCaw, who sold the team to (the evil) Michael Heisley, who then promised to make the franchise work in Vancouver but ultimately moved the team to Memphis; Aquilini, being a Vancouver local with a successful NHL franchise to his name, would provide stable ownership for a new NBA team. This is something that the Grizzlies (obviously) never had.
5) I guess you could say that the way the Grizzlies were run from top to bottom could be used as the manual for “How NOT To Run An NBA Team.” The same mistakes will not be made again. It’s all been done wrong once resulting in lessons learned. A good president and general manager are essential. Smart draft picks and strategic trading will be key. (Let’s not re-play the Big Country fiasco, please- or Antonio Daniels, for that matter). They will need to have a plan with regards to how to be competitive from the get-go. With the right management team in place, which I don’t believe Aquilini would move forward without, they will be capable of putting together a basketball team that provides a strong on court product. The Vancouver fan base will just continue to grow if we can cultivate a team that achieves success on the court. How can we even truly gauge this city’s potential passion for the sport when we haven’t been given the a fair shake at the real NBA experience?
Tell me what you think. Would you support the return of an NBA team to our fair city? Do you miss the live squeak of sneakers on the hardwood and the swish of the basketball going into the net as much as I do?