Home » What Really Happened to the Vancouver Grizzlies? New film explores the city’s short-lived NBA franchise

What Really Happened to the Vancouver Grizzlies? New film explores the city’s short-lived NBA franchise

by Stewart Cole

The Vancouver Grizzlies entered an NBA court for the first time in November 1995, defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 92-80 on the road.

But the city’s first professional basketball team wouldn’t last long.

After just six seasons, the franchise moved to Memphis, where it has remained ever since—leaving new fans like Kat Jayme to wonder why.

Jayme was six years old when she started watching the Grizzlies. Now a filmmaker, she’s made it somewhat of a mission to document the impact the team had during its short tenure in Vancouver.

“I’m a childhood fan turned filmmaker,” she said At the shore hostess Gloria Macarenko.

“If I had a story in my career that I wanted to tell, it was the story of the Vancouver Grizzlies. They had such a huge impact on my life and I always wanted to pay tribute to them.

“They inspired me to dream big.”

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Jayme’s latest documentary, The Grizzly Truth — which will screen at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on October 1 and 5 — is her fourth film for the team.

In 2021 it was released Born Identitieswhich delves into the history of the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors logos. We the Westeverything for the Grizzlies superfan, was released in 2019. and Finding a Great Countrya profile of band member Bryant (Big Country) Reeves screened at VIFF in 2018;

Her goal, she says, is to find out what really happened to the group – why they left town so abruptly in 2001, leaving fans like Jayme reeling.

“There was a lot that came together against the Grizzlies from the start,” Jayme said.

For the Grizzlies’ first three years, the NBA restricted the team from the first five overall draft picks and was salary capped for the first two.

Jayme said the inaugural team was made entirely of expansion players — basically, players other teams didn’t want.

This was an obvious reason for their poor league record. After two wins in their first two games, the Grizzlies went on a 19-game losing streak and went even worse in the second half of the season with a 23-game losing streak.

In their six years in Vancouver, the Grizzlies won 101 games — and lost 359.

But Jayme said things started to change for the team.

“What I’ve learned throughout my journey is that the Grizzlies were actually getting better, but the plug just got pulled too early,” Jayme said.

Jayme didn’t go into detail about what she revealed before the screening, but said that while the Grizzlies were doing well, they were also unlucky.

“To be successful, it takes a lot of hard work – but luck has to be on your side [as well],” he said.

Three basketball players wearing the Vancouver Grizzlies kit.
From left, Sharef Abdur-Rahim, Bryant Reeves and Mike Bibby pose for a publicity shot in 1999. (Reuters)

In the documentary he talks to Stu Jackson, the team’s general manager for the first five seasons, who he says took a lot of heat for the team’s lack of success.

“As fans, we have all these ideas about what they should have done or what they didn’t do. But we weren’t the general manager, so who are we to blame them?” said Jaime.

Reeves, Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Mike Bibby are former Grizzlies players are listed as appearing in the film.

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