SBD/April 28, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Former Grizzlies Owner Heisley Passes Away Due To Complications From Stroke

Heisley paid $160M for the Grizzlies in '00 and moved them to Memphis in '01
Former Grizzlies Owner MICHAEL HEISLEY died Saturday afternoon at the age of 77 following "complications from a massive stroke he suffered nearly 15 months ago," according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Heisley moved the Grizzlies to Memphis from Vancouver in '01. He paid $160M for the team in '00 and sold the franchise to current team Owner ROBERT PERA in '12. Pera's group "purchased the Grizzlies" for $377M. Stability "was never an issue with the franchise under Heisley," who was known for "being a passionate, no-holds-barred personality." He "regularly stated that his declining health was a major reason for wanting to sell" the team. Grizzlies GM CHRIS WALLACE: "Mike Heisley was as tough and strong-willed a person as I have ever met, yet he was also the biggest-hearted." Mavericks Owner MARK CUBAN: "He was an amazing man that I looked up to in so many ways. He never looked for credit for anything he did. He will be missed by everyone who knew him" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/27). Grizzlies F MARC GASOL said, "I'm really sad, really, really sad. Mr. Heisley was a person that really loved this team. He always cared a lot about us, and we always had a great relationship" (AP, 4/26).

IMPORTANT FIGURE FOR MEMPHIS: NBA Commissioner ADAM SILVER noted in addition to moving the Grizzlies to Memphis, Heisley also was responsible for getting FedExForum built. Silver: "He was a longtime friend of the league. He was a wonderful owner, a terrific friend" (THE DAILY). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes FedFexForum "wouldn’t have existed without Heisley’s decision to move a basketball team to Memphis." Without Heisley, there "would be no" Grizzlies. Calkins: "This city needed him. It needed his deep pockets, when the team ran annual deficits. It needed his stubbornness ... to get FedExForum built" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/28). The NBA in '05 said that the Grizzlies were "in the upper echelon of teams in terms of charitable work," having raised more than $17M in donations and pledges for various charities (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).
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