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Heisley says age, health motivated him to sell Grizzlies

Jun 12, 2012, 1:13 PM EDT

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

The announcement was not a shock — Michael Heisley has been looking to sell the Memphis Grizzlies for a few years now, he has gone down the road more than once only to turn back for various reasons.

But the announcement that he was selling the team to young tech billionaire Robert Pera was unexpected. It’s not going to be immediate — the league has a review process that takes a couple of months then must be voted on by the other owners — but the sale is going to happen short of some unexpected revelation.

Heisley told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida that his health and age issues are what caused him to make the move now.

“I have stepped aside from my companies,” Heisley, who has been looking to sell the team before, said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida about why he’s selling now. “I’m 75 years of age. I had a couple of medical problems this year (with his heart). I thought the team was in good shape. Fan base was in good shape. I thought if the opportunity presented itself, I would sell the team….

“It’s very bittersweet,” Heisley said of selling the team. “I love Memphis …. I’ve spent a huge amount of money to make the team successful there …. I did it because I love basketball and I love the city of Memphis and the people there, and they’ve treated me fantastic. I have nothing but wonderful feelings …. I’m 75. My son (Michael Heisley Jr.) is not interested in going to Memphis and running the team. So, obviously, at some point it was going to have to be done. And, quite honestly, I thought it was my job to get it done rather than leave it to my heirs.”

There were concerns that Pera might try to move the team, but the Grizzlies have a basically iron clad lease for nine more seasons (until 2021). This team is not moving, not soon anyway.

Pera is reportedly an avid basketball fan who plays a few times a week, and that is the case he should be a good owner. Grizzlies’ fans hope better than Heisley.

  1. trueballs - Jun 12, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    With the NBA entering into a new great era it would be nice to see more owners like Pera. Out with the old terrible owners who are business men looking for a profit (something that just doesn’t happen with sports franchises) and in with the young money! I hate Mark Cuban, but we need more owners like him.

  2. going4iton4th - Jun 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Heisley was rivaling Donald Sterling for worst owner in the NBA until he learned that tightening the purse strings means ZERO fan support. A new owner might be just the thing for the Griz.

    • franchiseplaya - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      I’m not overly familiar w/ his business practices and team spending. is heisley a bad owner or were the grizz just more interested in building thru the draft (like OKC) rather than just throw money at free agents? It seems to have worked to some degree, with a pretty successful playoff run last year and a much improved regular season this yr. im not being a smart ass, its just an outsiders perception.

  3. readysethike - Jun 12, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    now the new owner can move the team to a state where geographically it will actually be in the western conference…Seattle Washington maybe?

    • franchiseplaya - Jun 12, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      I don’tadvocate ripping a team away from a city that supports its team, which Memphis has been doing. However, I agree, a franchise in Seattle should be a priority for the league.

  4. badintent - Jun 13, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    Heisly stole my Vancouver Grizzlies, I wish a real Grizzly had killed him ! And Stern flat out lied about the team not moving before Micheal bought it. We had a terrible team .350 record for 7 years, but still almost had 85 % attendance.We had a mental midget, Stu Jackson as the GM, he passed on Vince Carter, Lamar Odom and draft Steve Francis who refused to play here( no Churchs Chicken) and took Mike Bibby instead. We get a good coach Lionel Hollins, and Stu fires him.Brutal.Jerry West becomes GM and the Grizz become legit.

  5. going4iton4th - Jun 15, 2012 at 8:26 AM


    Heisley was ok as an owner but not really liked in Memphis because he is not a native and plus he made some moves that turned off the community (Pau Gasol trade being one, the Lionel Hollins hire seen as him being a cheap skate). The Griz haven’t had a great history in the draft either. I’ll admit he’s redeemed himself as he exits (Chris Wallace has had some success in trades and free agency Z-Bo, Tony Allen, etc) . I know all you Seattle fans want a team but keep an eye on the Kings not the Griz. Pera will not move the team.

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