Nearly 20 years after Vancouver lost its NBA franchise, a Grizzlies superfan is hoping to start a movement to bring one back.
That’s when ex-Raptor superstar Kawhi Leonard and his LA Clippers will take on the Dallas Mavericks.
“We only have one shot at this,” said Jayme.
“The NBA only comes to town once a year, so this is our chance to show the league how great our fans are.”
She’s encouraging fans to deck themselves out in Grizzlies gear, make signs, and come make themselves visible to the league.
“I want this for the younger generation,” she said.
“I grew up with the Grizzlies, I was six when they came, they were sort of my gateway to dreaming that I wanted to be the first girl in the NBA.”
The Vancouver Grizzlies left town in 2001, after a decidedly mediocre six-season run, becoming today’s Memphis Grizzlies.
READ MORE: An oral history of the Vancouver Grizzlies
Getting a team to Vancouver won’t be easy. The latest Forbes valuations price an NBA franchise north of US$1.9 billion.
Randy Vogt, owner of Granville Sports, says it’s clear there’s a big support base in town, with sales of Grizzlies jerseys and caps among his fastest moving products.
“All the kids that used to go to the game, grown up now, still are fans,” he said.
Vogt said sales of Grizzlies and Toronto merchandise have only grown since the latter team developed into championship material.
“The Raptors changed business a lot,” he said.
“Before the Raptors were a successful NBA organization, business for the Raptors jerseys wasn’t very good. But as the Raptors have improved, their jersey sales have gone through the roof,” he said.
Jayme said she’s counting on Raptormania to help drive the conversation about bringing the NBA back to Vancouver.
She said she’s clear-eyed about the fact that if the NBA does return permanently to Vancouver, it probably won’t be soon.
But she said step one is showing the NBA, and potentially deep-pocketed investors, that Vancouver wants — and can support — a team, even if their on-court record is as bad as the original Grizzlies.
“They were awful, but we still loved them,” she said. “Even though we sucked, we still had a team to cheer for.”
With files from Aaron McArthur