On Tuesday, ESPN the Magazine unveiled the cover of the upcoming September 30, 2013 issue, which features ESPN’s annual “Franchise Rankings”. Who checked in at Number One? How about our very own Memphis Grizzlies. Here is a link to the image, which is available for purchase.
Last year, the Grizzlies were ranked #5 in the poll, with the Oklahoma City Thunder taking the top spot. In fact, four of the top five spots were NBA teams, including the (1) Thunder, (3) Spurs, (4) Pacers and (5) Grizzlies. The only non-NBA team in the top five was the Green Bay Packers, who were number two.
Though the full article will not be released until later this month, the criteria historically includes:
- Bang For The Buck: Wins during the past three (3) years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules.
- Fan Relations: Openness and consideration towards fans by players, coaches and management.
- Ownership: Honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.
- Affordability: Prices of tickets, parking and concessions.
- Stadium Experience: Quality of arena and game-day promotions as well as friendliness of environment.
- Players: Effort on the field and likability off it.
- Coaching: Strength of on-field leadership.
- Title Track: Championships already won or expected in the lifetime of current fans.
While we do not know where the team stacked up in each specific category yet, it is easy to see how the franchise ended up with the top spot. The Grizzlies have won a lot of games the last three years, including three playoff appearances – two of which included advancing out of the first round. The front office and players are generally very open and accessible to the fans and work very hard to improve the local community, as evidenced by the Grizzlies winning the Beyond Sports Team of the Year award in 2012. Anyone who has attended a game in Memphis knows that FedExForum is a top-tier venue and the Grizzlies event team puts on a fantastic show. Further, the Grizzlies are widely regarded as having the most reasonably priced tickets of any professional sports franchise, with season tickets starting as low as $5/game. Needless to say, the Grizzlies players are beloved in the community, despite some of their checkered pasts. While coaching may be a bit of an unknown going forward, there is every reason to believe that Coach Joerger will continue the team’s recent success.
For a franchise that struggled to get traction in the community for the first few years, this is a truly monumental achievement, even if it means nothing tangible per se. The team and players deserves a great deal of credit for this achievement, but everyone needs to take a moment to thank Michael Heisley as well. He may not own the team anymore, but the success currently enjoyed in the Bluff City is in no small part the result of his vision and effort.
Stay tuned to 3SOB over the next week as we will update this story when the team’s specific scores are announced.
Grind on, Memphis!