When we write stories about brothers having a shorter leash than their white counterparts, some folks get it. Others want to keep their heads in the sand and accuse us of inciting a riot.
When the Memphis Grizzlies fired David Fizdale on Monday after a little more than one season and one playoff appearance, most people thought it was a bit premature and a typical case of a brother getting the quick hook.
The Grizzlies, who were in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and had lost 11 of 13, were missing Mike Conley who is still nursing that sore Achilles. The season was definitely at a rocky road, but not unsalvageable just 19 games into the campaign.
Reactions around the league and the rest of Twitter nation was one of shock and in support of Fizdale, who was just getting started building a culture in Memphis.
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy
Wow smh just wow!!!
And unsurprisingly, some misguided Twitter heads felt the race card was being played. Six days ago, NBA nation was asking, “What’s wrong with the Grizzlies?”
Now we find out that its deeper than basketball. We find out that the relationship between the Grizzlies star Marc Gasol and their young African-American coach was rocky.
“It’s not like people in the league didn’t know that Marc and Fiz weren’t speaking or getting along,” an NBA executive told CBS Sports, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on another team.
“The best player in franchise history and the head coach were not seeing eye to eye,” NBA guru David Aldridge told NBA Network last night. “They weren’t even talking to each other from what I understand. And the record in these sorts of things is star player 8 billion – coaches 3 and those three coaches are Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. So that’s the way it is in the NBA and the Grizzlies can say all they want that this has nothing to do with Marc Gasol. When it really has everything to do with Marc Gasol and him not being happy with how he was being used…or not used down the stretch by David Fizdale”
Things between the two came to a head in Memphis’ Sunday night loss to the Nets. In the third quarter, Fizdale benched Gasol in the third quarter and for the remainder of the game. If the relationship was as volatile as NBA reporters are expressing, then it was only a matter of time before it imploded. Gasol was publicly miffed about it.
The Grizzlies have reportedly fired Coach David Fizdale. Here’s what he and Marc Gasol had to say about Gasol’s 4th quarter benching last night: https://t.co/zSYGL0ySbz
Truthfully, from a marketing perspective, a white superstar in the NBA is worth much more than an African-American coach in the eyes of most owners, and Memphis early slide was the perfect excuse for team executives to please Gasol and make the move to J.B. Bickerstaff, who undoubtedly will let Gasol continue to run the club.
It’s no wonder the team was doing so awful. Gasol was sabotaging Fizdale’s leadership capabilities and refused to be a true leader and help develop a winning chemistry within the team. The Grizzlies brain trust obviously has a lovefest with Gasol and totally sided with him, usurping any authority Fizdale had to enforce anything with his team.
As the relationship between Fiz and Gasol deteriorated, so did Memphis’ winning spirit. In a way, Gasol played the reverse racism card, dragging Mike Conley into his rant.
Tensions rising in Memphis after 8 straight losses.
Gasol seems to be getting Lebron James, Michael Jordan props in Memphis. Why?
Hes never even made an NBA Finals in his decade of balling. He’s never won a thing in Memphis. Hes aging and is a max-contract player. If anything, Gasol is a bigger albatross to business than Fizdale, but Memphis chose to protect its current investment in him at the expense of a talented young coach who wasn’t given a fair chance.