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Grizzlies’ owner promises not to sell team if goal is to move it

Mar 30, 2012, 11:40 PM EDT

Image (1) Heisley-thumb-275x393-14169.jpeg for post 2659

Basically, Michael Heisley has promised not to be Howard Schultz.

Reports had surfaced that billionaire Larry Ellison is sniffing around the Memphis Grizzlies, looking to buy them. Which scared Grizzlies fans because Ellison has been looking for a team to move to San Jose.

There’s a few reasons that is not going to happen, but now among them is Grizzlies owner Heisley telling the Commercial Appeal that he is not going to sell the team to someone who plans to move it. That starts with Ellison.

“We’re not even considering Ellison,” Heisley said. “This team cannot be moved.”

The Grizzlies lease with Memphis for the FedEx Forum has some financial penalties if a team pulls up stakes, plus it leaves the owner open to painful and likely successful litigation if he (or she) tried to move the team before 2021.

Heisley is willing to sell the team, with a reported asking price of $350 million.

Heisley acknowledged that there is one other person looking at the prospect of buying the team, but he expressed skepticism.

“I don’t know if he’s serious,” said Heisley, a 75-year-old, Chicago-based billionaire. “I think I’ll own the team for a while.”

Now, if I were an owner trying to spur more local corporate sponsorship and ticket sales I would need to put a winner out on the court — the Grizzlies are considered one of the better young teams in the game — then I would threaten a sale or move of the team. To see if that would spark local action — which in Memphis it has.

I’m not saying 75-year-old Heisley has just threatened to sell the team only in hopes of driving up ticket sales. I’m just saying if one wanted to drive up ticket sales that would be one way. Decide for yourself what is going on.

  1. redstar504 - Mar 31, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Just standard NBA operating procedure. Heck, it worked great here in New Orleans it got us to purchase over 10k season tickets to watch a 13 win team just imagine what it can do for a winner. Again standard NBA operating procedure. Need to sell tickets just threaten to move and hold your fans hostages.

  2. seattlesuperchronic - Mar 31, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Move! I know of a beautiful northwest location right on the water, they’ll love it!

  3. glink123 - Mar 31, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    you had a team, Seattle. you showed your loyalty by telling the team to go f-ck themselves when they wanted a new stadium. and now you have nothing. deal with it.

    • sweetnlow44 - Apr 1, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      You obviously have no clue whatsoever of what happened in Seattle. The Sonics leaving had absolutely nothing to do with fans’ loyalty. Nothing. It had to everything to do with a greedy owner who demanded the city buy him a new stadium while he kept all of the profits from that stadium. He got Stern behind him to try and sell it to the city that Key Arena couldn’t support an NBA team which is utter BS as they’d recently rebuilt the key to NBA standards. And they threatened the city to build them a new stadium or they’ll sell the team. It was all about a greedy, inept owner, Howard Schultz, and a corrupt, snake of a commissioner, David Stern and his boyfriend Clay Bennett. To try and say it was because of the fans not being loyal is utter stupidity. The fans had no say in any of that train wreck whatsoever.

  4. adnan604 - Mar 31, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    I still despise Micheal Heisley for moving the Grizzlies away from Vancouver, I live here and I haven’t been to a professional sports event since the Grizzlies were in town roughly 10 years now…

    it honestly hurts when your favorite team gets moved out of town, so I sympathize very much with Memphis….

    and BTW, this dunghole said the same exact thing to us Vancouverites right before he moved the team out of too

  5. losangelasbasketball - Mar 31, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Grizzlies, Raptors, Timberwolves, and Hornets….. Did they try to find least creative guy in america to name those franchises? the only things those names remind me of is little league baseball… Those fans need to boycott those god awful names…..

    • drunkenjunk - Mar 31, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      They’re all better than the Bobcats. I’m Pretty sure the Raptors were part of the Jurassic Park craze.

  6. rollteal - Mar 31, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    I will agree with all but Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets trace their name all the way back to revolutionary war.

    • redstar504 - Mar 31, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      They do and that is why that name belongs in the “Hornet’s Nest” as Lord Charles Cornwallis so aptly named the Carolinas.

      Word is the New Orleans Hornets will be changing their name once the sale is completed to a more local name that fits in better here in New Orleans, The bobcats should pick it up.

      • hojo20 - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:00 PM

        NO should pick up the Jazz as a nickname.

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