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Grizzlies look for fans outside Memphis

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The Memphis Grizzlies are coming off their best season in franchise history winning 56 games culminating with their first trip to the Western Conference Finals. Last month, ESPN The Magazine named the Memphis Grizzlies “the best franchise in sports.” The small market Grizzlies seem to be gaining some interest with folks outside of Memphis.

Since the Grizzlies are the only NBA team for hundreds of miles, they are looking to expand their fan base outside of Memphis. Last month, the Grizzlies made stops in Nashville TN, St. Louis MO, Jackson MS, Jackson TN, and Little Rock AR on their Regional Caravan Tour. In an effort to get fans outside of Memphis excited about the upcoming NBA season, Grizzlies’ guard Quincy Pondexter, team mascot Grizz, the Grizz Girls and the Claw Crew brought autograph opportunities, photo-ops, and prizes to fans throughout the Mid-South.

This week Memphis is holding training camp in Nashville for the first time. Nashville has an NFL team, the Titans, and an NHL team, the Predators, but no NBA team. The Grizzlies will be at Memorial Gym on the campus of Vanderbilt University through Friday. At the end of camp, the Grizzlies will hold an open practice for fans on October 5 at the Ensworth School at the Devon Farms Campus. The first 1,500 fans will be guaranteed admission. In a further effort to expand their fan base outside of Memphis, the Grizzlies open the preseason in St. Louis on October 7 against the Chicago Bulls. St. Louis has an NFL team, the Rams, an MLB team, the Cardinals, and an NHL team, the Blues, but no NBA team.

Along with new fans, the Grizzlies also have a new head coach in David Joeger, who was promoted from Assistant Coach replacing Lionel Hollins. Also new to Memphis are Mike Miller from the Miami Heat and Kosta Koufos from the Denver Nuggets. But not everything is new in Memphis, the Grizzlies core players are returning including Zach Randolph, Jerryd Bayless, Quincy Pondexter, Tayshaun Prince, NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, NBA All-Defensive Team players Tony Allen and Mike Conley. Over the past few seasons, the Grizzlies have become one of the league’s most feared defenses leading the NBA in points allowed (89.3) and in steals (2,105).

Follow Deena Dietrich on Twitter @DeenasDays

Photo Credit: (Mark Humphrey)

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