Report: Robert Pera orchestrated one-on-one game with Tony Allen, wanted to fire Dave Joerger when it fell through
May 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
UPDATE: Grizzlies owner Robert Pera took to twitter to defend himself.
To which the writer Chris Mannix (who does his research) had this retort:
Pera is hands on and passionate but clearly not an experienced manager. He’s learning some lessons the hard way.
The game never happened, and Pera moved on to challenge Michael Jordan to a game of one-on-one (though that game didn’t happen either).
But behind the scenes in Memphis, Pera reportedly didn’t move on at all.
The genesis of the Joerger-Pera problems, according to league sources, dates back to last September. Pera — who fancies himself a pretty good player — challenged Tony Allen to a game of one-on-one. Allen, on Twitter, accepted. Pera, a Silicon Valley billionaire who bought a small controlling interest in the Grizzlies in 2012, poured tens of thousands of dollars into producing the matchup. He invited the media and instructed the public relations staff to issue a press release promoting the event.
The problem? Allen had lost interest. Joerger, a first-year head coach, didn’t like the idea of the game — like many in the organization he found it goofy and unbecoming of a professional team, according to sources — but it was Allen’s indifference that caused it to be called off. Yet Pera directed his frustration at Joerger and, according to a source, directed upper management to fire him.
Wow. Just…. wow. That is an incredible story.
But wait. There’s more.
When the Grizzlies opened the season 2-3 — including double-digit defeats to Dallas and New Orleans — Pera flew to Memphis and held individual meetings with players, sources say. He began offering bizarre suggestions. He suggested Mike Miller, a longtime Grizzlies player who was re-signed in the offseason, could become a player-coach. He brought up the idea that Joerger could wear an NFL-style headset and take instructions on the sideline. When the Grizzlies faced Golden State in early November, Pera insisted that Joerger give significant minutes to fourth-year power forward Ed Davis. Davis played just one. Again, according to sources, Pera insisted that Joerger had to go. Only after it was explained how dysfunctional the franchise would look if it fired a first year head coach six games into the season did Pera back down.
Miller, under Collective Bargaining Agreement rules, couldn’t be a player-coach. He’d have to retire as a player first.
I suppose Joerger could wear a headset, but what’s the point? A basketball coach is feet from all his assistants, and there are only a few of them to track the 10 players on the court. In football, there are many more coaches and 22 players on the field. Everyone is more spread out, making headsets much more helpful. Who would Joerger have been talking to that he couldn’t to face-to-face? Pera?
The Grizzlies won that game against the Warriors by 18 points. Maybe Davis should have gotten more playing time, but the result makes it difficult to question Joerger. Besides, Davis settled into a more consistent role as the season progressed.
Joerger might be remaining in Memphis for now, but that’s a lot of distrust to overcome with ownership. I suspect this won’t be the last you hear of Pera and Joerger’s relationship.
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