In the early 1990s, the NBA came up with a fantastic idea of discovering Canada. That is, not like completely open (in the end, Toronto Huskies was not only one of the first league clubs, but even played in its first match), but at least remind that there is such a great country. There, in the north, the weather is always frost. The NBA already knew about Toronto, but it seemed disreputable to present only one team. So, the search for another Canadian city was immediately announced.
So Vancouver was open to the exciting American fans. As a result, the Vancouver Grizzlies team arrived in the NBA in 1995. At first, owners wanted to name it Mounties in honor of the famous Canadian Mounted Police Department. As it was expected, local fans and the police didn’t get the joke. So, the search for the club’s name continued. According to the results of the popular vote, quite a severe Vancouver Grizzlies and mysterious Vancouver Ravens became the favorites, and the victory was achieved by the strongest one. But the reserved name created in honor of the North American bear was no less successful. In western Canada, there are a lot of grizzlies, who are considered to be a totem symbol of local Indians. This fact is reflected in one of the club’s less important emblems. Speaking about the logos, nobody knows for sure why the managers decided to choose these. Perhaps it reflects the blue sky of Canada, as it could be depicted by an avant-garde artist working in the genre of nuclear apocalyptics. The Grizzlies called this shade of turquoise Naismith Blue, hinting that the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith is related to their emblem.
The blue mutation did not survive the 1990s. In the 99th, the Grizzlies got an alternative black shape, which became the main one the following year.
Associations with the mighty northern giant turned out to be only an illusion: for six years of being in Vancouver, the team took the last place in the standings five times, winning a total of only 22% of victories. Having successively replaced the two owners for four years, the franchise was almost in the hands of Bill Lowry, who decided to move the team to St. Louis. NBA commissioner David Stern put a veto on the deal. So, the team was sold to Michael Heasley, a Chicago businessman who promised to keep the franchise in Canada.
However, the financial illiteracy of the former owners, as well as a weak marketing campaign and failures in the draft, led to the club losing up to $ 40 million a year. In the lock-out season of 1998/99, all League clubs recorded a decline in spectator activity, but the fall in interest in the Grizzlies was catastrophic.
In March 2001, the team was officially relocated to Memphis, the city of Elvis Presley. This city wasn’t spoiled by the attention of the most significant sports leagues in the USA. However, the Memphis team was not the first basketball club in Tennessee. The point is that in 1970, the ABA team Flibustier, that moved from New Orleans, was trying to sort out some ruthless names during the next five years. They came up with different names like Memphis Pros, Tams, Sounds, etc. However, the success of their predecessors could not be compared with the future heroes of Grizzlies.
Here again, there was a problem with the name. The fact is that there is the headquarters of Federal Express in Memphis, which became the sponsor of the club. They hoped that the team’s new name would be Memphis Express. But the NBA made changes, deciding that there should be no advertising in the club’s name (as well as on its form).
As a result, the club remained Grizzlies, although this species of bear don’t populate the state of Tennessee. At first, the team continued to play in the Vancouver colors, but for the fourth season in Memphis, it acquired new ones. Designers strived to change the blue color. They added three (three!) different shades of blue on the Memphis Grizzlies form. They are called Memphis Midnight (dark navy blue), Beale Street Blue (blue, but named after the famous street of Memphis, which played a large role in the history of blues music) and Smoky blue (pale blue).
Memphis Grizzlies logo history
The most real grizzlies in basketball, the Memphis Grizzlies team, appeared relatively recently, in 1995 in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2001, they moved to Tennessee and are now in the Western NBA Conference. Throughout its history, the team logo has changed three times and only once significantly.
1996 – 2001
In 1995, Toronto Raptors joined the league due to the expansion, along with Vancouver Grizzlies, the young team from Vancouver. On the first team logo, the creators depicted a growling brown grizzly bear holding a red ball in one of its paws. The inscription “Vancouver” was red. Under it, there was the inscription “Grizzlies,” which was made larger with an emerald hue. Also, the letters “G” and “S” were much bigger than others.
2002 – 2004
The team moved to Memphis, and therefore the logo required some updates. Changing the Memphis Grizzlies logo in 2002, the main goal of designers was only to improve the quality of colors and adjust the previous design. The colors remained the same, but thanks to the development of technology, the quality of the design were significantly improved. Also, the inscription “Vancouver” was replaced by Memphis.
2005 – 2018
A complete update of the Memphis Grizzlies logo occurred in 2005. Blue became the primary color of the Memphis Grizzlies emblem. In the center, there was a large grizzly head with piercing yellow eyes. It was decided to divide the head into two parts by the color palette so that it would look more expressive with the help of different shades of blue. The word Memphis was placed in huge letters under it, and the word Grizzlies was just below the curved semicircle. As expected, the text was also made in different shades of blue.
2018 – Present
Some minor updates occurred in 2018. By adjusting the colors, designers made the grizzly head looking more natural. Also, the font and color in the title were changed: the letters became more strictly and were made in a darker shade of blue.