Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/16/13
Folks in the city of Memphis enjoy their Tigers basketball and at no point did they show that more than when John Calipari had things rolling and Derrick Rose was running the show. In fact their support for Memphis' collegiate basketball team was so great the Grizzlies became an afterthought appearing less like a professional team and more like a JV alternative (GM Chris Wallace's words not mine). Grizzlies brass were aware of this development and it affected the way they handled business namely in the now infamous Pau Gasol trade according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “We were stuck at that point" Wallace said. "We never won a playoff game. We were heading for a second 20-something-win season. After all this is the entertainment business and the town really did not see much entertainment value in our team anymore. Our crowds were dismal and it coincided with the Derrick Rose season at the University of Memphis and literally we were like a high school JV compared to them in terms of interest. It was just remarkable when we played a day-night doubleheader you didn’t think you were in the same building when you went to their game. So there was really nothing to lose at that point.” Wallace was aware that sending Gasol to the Lakers would be a large benefit to them but had more interest in putting the Grizzlies in a space where they could start the rebuilding process. Pairing Gasol with Kobe Bryant meant two NBA titles for the Lakers. The Grizzlies recently made their first Western Conference finals appearance so they didn't exactly fail in their goal of becoming a better franchise. “Do we have to evaluate deals strictly on how they are going to affect the other team?” Wallace said. “Do we have to eliminate any deal that’s going to help the other team win a championship? If it’s going to work for us that’s really not our problem. Unfortunately when you make this type of major deal and you move the best player on your team it always comes down to a few viable teams.” Almost just as important as winning in the basketball business is appealing to fans and drawing a crowd. The Grizzlies are no longer option No. 2 and their most recent playoff runs have proved that.
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