Michael Heisley, the billionaire business man who purchased the Vancouver Grizzlies and moved them to Memphis, passed away Saturday at the age of 77.
Heisley died from complications of a massive stroke he had suffered 15 months ago.
“This is a sad day as the entire Grizzlies’ organization, the extended NBA family and the city of Memphis mourn the loss of former Grizzlies owner, Michael Heisley. We send our condolences to the entire Heisley family and want them to know they remain in our thoughts,” Grizzlies’ owner Robert Pera said in a released statement.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed Heisley at a press conference in Memphis over the weekend.
“Michael was responsible for moving the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis and really for getting (FedExForum, the Grizzlies’ home arena) built as well as a long-time friend of the league. He was a wonderful owner, a terrific friend and I want to send my deepest condolences to his wife, Agnes, to his children, and all his friends.”
Heisley bought the team back in 2000 and moved the team from Vancouver to Memphis a year later. One of his first moves was to hire Jerry West as president of basketball operations. Heisley wasn’t the most popular of owners in Memphis, but he was very loyal to the city (he could have moved it or sold it to someone who would). He built an organization that was active with charitable contributions in the community, and eventually winning again on the court.
In 2012 he had presided over a team that was on the rise in the NBA, when he sold the team to current owner Robert Pera, for $377 million.
Our thoughts to out the Heisley’s family and freinds.