Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's All Part of the Plan

Commercial Appeal Sports Editor Geoff Calkins sat down with Grizzlies Owner Michael Heisley for a facinating interview.

As always, Heisley seems genuine and reasonable. He sounds like a guy with a plan. In fact, he spends some time talking about this three year plan to get the Grizzlies back to respectability as well as his plans to keep the Grizzlies in Memphis.

I appreciate Heisley's commitment to keeping the team in Memphis, and I can't fault him for admitting that he can't stop another owner from moving the team. As an aside, I liked Bill Simmons' response to the Sonics' 'relocation':
SG: Here's my contribution to the poor Sonics fans: You know the team Kevin Durant plays for right now? I'm never mentioning their "new" name in this column. Ever. For as long as I have it. I'm alternating between these four names …
1. Kevin Durant's Team.
2. The Seattle SloppySeconds
3. The Bennett City Hijackers
4. The Team That Shall Not Be Named
The most interesting part of the Heisley  interview for me, in part because I haven't heard it said explicitly, was Heisley's take on the Grizzlies' efforts to change the tempo at which they play:
MH: No. I'm talking about when we decided to go up-tempo because the fans didn't like the style. I think the slow-tempo team Mike Fratello put out there, when your guards are 30-something guys, you don't run. Because they can't run. I'm not saying Mike Fratello wasn't a slow-tempo guy, I'm saying he won 49 (bleeping) games. When you win 20-something games, it's a lot worse than winning 49 games. And, believe me, it was worse.
Heisley is right. The Grizzlies had players and a system that won 45-50 games per season. Instead of tweaking that system to improve, the Grizzlies upset the established order, and the result has been chaos. 

I would have rather seen the Grizzlies win a playoff game than seen them implement a fast tempo. That tradeoff may be the biggest mistake the Grizzlies have made.

We can only hope that this short term setback (1 year and counting) will generate long term gains that compensate. After all, struggling while these young players develop into stars is all part of the plan. Or are we like a dog chasing cars?

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