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3 Shades of Blue was honored to have a sit down meeting with Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. Being that it is not always the case that bloggers get an opportunity to get the inside information from someone who really knows what is going on, and as was made clear during the interview we havent always gotten it right in what we wrote, it was a rare and appreciated gift of time from the person who really does know what is happening.

The interview took place on Friday afternoon before the Chalk Talk and Warrriors-Grizzlies game and was quite long so we will be breaking it up into several blogs. Mr. Heisley was open and forthright to every question we asked and at times possibly too open. For that reason and that reason only some items have been edited. Not to protect the blog but to protect the team and Mr. Heisley. Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 will be posted around lunch time each day this week.

3 Shades of Blue will be running a segment of the interview each of the next 5 days. The new parts will be posted around lunch time each day.

3SoB: I know you set some ground rules right off the bat, no talking about player or personnel moves…
MH: I tell you what, ask me whatever questions you want. I will basically, I will be extremely co-operative. I will answer them to the best of my abilities. You might ask me a personnel decision and I might say Ill answer it. You might ask me a question and I might tell you what Im doing. So dont feel anything is out of bounds. Ask me and Ill answer it. If I dont feel I can answer a question Ill tell you I cant. If I answer the question, you might not agree with it, but you will find out to the best of my ability it is the truth.

3SoB: Thats all I can ask. I dont know if youve read our site at all but…
MH: Actually I have. Stan (Meadows) gave me some of your stuff.

3SoB: We try to be as honest as we can with a bent towards humor. Today we are going to be a little more serious. My first question is pretty straight forward, what is your vision of the team going forward? How long do you expect we can return to the playoffs? How long before we are competing for a championship?
MH: My vision for the team is we are in the process of rebuilding the team. We got a nucleus of 5 young players that we are trying to build a team around. That doesnt mean that they will be with us for 5 years but it is the nucleus we are going to build around. That includes young players like Rudy Gay, (Hakim) Warrick, {Mike) Conley, Kyle Lowry and (Javaris) Crittenton and theyre the young players that are there. Weve got 2 or 3 draft picks in this next draft coming up and they will be added to that situation. If we do trades or acquisitions and so on we are basically going to be looking at the age of these people. Something I believe in, I dont know if weve always followed but I have a lot more to say about now is that you basically have to do what youre saying. You have to basically look at your team, look at the year that you want that team to mature and you got to start working toward bringing that team to maturity.

In other words I dont want a guy who is 32 now that I think is going to be part of my championship team in three years. Hell be 35 or 36. Obviously I want to try and build my team around the same so that I at least have my core maturing at the same age. That doesnt mean you cant bring in a veteran but the core of the team has to be somewhat maturing at about the same time. You dont want a team maturing as you go out because after about 6 years the guy whos maturing is gone and you never seem to catch up so were going to try and build the team that way and I think weve got a good start and weve got some very good players.

How long? Well when Jerry West came here I would have told you that we had not won more than 20 games in the history of the franchise, I told him I wanted to get into the playoffs. He shocked me and we got into the playoffs 18 months after he got here. That was a huge, huge jump and I think we had some fortunate things to happen to us. I think we had some great coaching. I think Jerry made some great decisions. Thats where we got but I think the key was Jerry always wanted to win a championship but in reality our #1 focus was trying to get to the playoffs. This time I think my focus is more on getting much further and have a legitimate chance to win a championship.

I dont believe the team that took us to the playoffs ever had a chance to develop into [a championship team]. If we had gotten LeBron James we could have possibly made a run to the championship but those are the kind of things you cant predict. You need luck.

So that is basically my vision for the future of the team.

3SoB: Just real quick, you mentioned Rudy, Hakim, Conley, Lowry and Crittenton. Darkos 22 years old. Granted hes been in the league 4 years and this season hes had a lot of injuries…
MH: I think thats a good point. I think Darkos a part of the team. I think the reason youre looking at it is that Darkos been in the league for a length of time, you would hope the question is have we seen what Darko is going to be or are we seeing what he is and what he might be might be even better. Thats what were hoping. When we brought Darko in our hope was to basically get some of things weve gotten out of him and that is #1 defense and I think hes done a fantastic job against some of the other big men in the league. #2 is rebounding and I think he can do a better job on rebounding, and if we got some offense out of him that was a big plus. I think we need to get more of what weve seen from him game to game rather than some of the ups and downs that Darko has.

I was just giving you something off the top of my head (when I mentioned those other players). That goes back to what I was talking about before. We dont want to bring in a guy whos 28 that might even be a little bit better than Darko as a free agent. We would rather bring in a guy whos going to mature at about the same time. If Darkos can get better, hes got get better too. I think that is the somewhat of the responsibility on the shoulders of the coaching staff and so on to get these kids better.

Take Boston for example. Theyve got Garnett and Allen who are fantastic scorers and everything else but in reality what they also got was a defensive coach out of Houston. They basically turned the team over to him and he was a great defensive coach. (Kevin) Garnett brought his enthusiasm to the team but my remembrance I dont ever remember Minnesota ever playing defense anywhere near as good as this team plays defense. They got Pierce who everyone thought could play defense but he never really did. He bought into the system and now theyve got one hell of a defensive team. Matter of fact, we outscore them! We score more points per game than they do. They just dont let anyone score more than about 80 something points against them and we let teams score 120 against us.

3SOB: It makes it a little harder to win that way.

To be Continued…

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One Response to Michael Heisley Tells It Like It Is – Part One

  1. […] to take it out of context. He said yes and so we arranged to meet the next time he was in town. The interview took over two hours and ran over an entire week on the blog in five different segments… It was extremely well received by readers and the Grizzlies. At that time reporters interviews […]

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