The latest issue of ESPN ranks every franchise in the four major sports from best to worst. The Oklahoma City Thunder topped the list, while the NHL’s lowly Toronto Maple Leafs were ranked at the bottom. Coming in at number five? A relatively obscure, underground basketball called the Memphis Grizzlies.
That’s right, there are 117 teams that are run worse than the Grizz, and only four the are considered to be better. While this was a bit surprising at first, when looking at the data, it made perfect sense. This wasn’t a list ranking who had won the most titles, or signed the most big name free agents, this was a list that separated the underachievers from the overachievers. And the Grizzlies have overachieved big time in the past few years.
Despite being a small market team who rarely makes watershed signings, and despite playing in the extremely competitive Western conference, the Grizzlies have established themselves as a perennial playoff contender. After years of struggling to gain respect, no one takes the Grizzlies lightly anymore.
The Grizzlies really shined when it came to their low ticket prices. They ranked #1 in Bang For Buck, and #6 in Affordability. Few things aggravate sports fans more than having to pay top dollar to see a team that can’t contend for a playoff spot. Grizzlies fans are lucky enough to pay relatively inexpensive prices to see one of the toughest teams in the league. For season ticket holders, the cheapest tickets cost as low $11, while some of the more expensive tickets still don’t go over $27. Many franchises price tickets so high that only upper-middle class families can actually afford to go to games. The Grizzlies should be commended for making sure anyone can go to a game.
After years of trial and error, and a lot of losing seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies have finally put it together. They are a fine example of a small market team who has found ways to succeed despite not having the benefits of playing in New York or L.A.. Whether they’ll be able to take the next logical step, and play for a title like the Thunder remains to be seen, but the Grizzlies are an extremely well-run franchise, and this ranking merely confirms what many fans have known for years.