When all of this started it was the Raptors in Toronto and Grizzlies in Vancouver. In the comparison between the two, it became obvious fairly quickly which franchise was heading in right direction and which one wasn't. The most glaring and obvious early decision was the draft, in which the Raptors selected Damon Stoudamire and Grizzlies went with Bryant Reeves. Mighty Mouse went on to win the Rookie of the Year while Reeves became a bust despite lasting longer in Vancouver.
Reeves had a 6 year run with Grizzlies he never played for anyone else in his NBA Career. His best season was 97-98 where he averaged 16.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. His worst was his final season where he 8.3 Points and just 6 rebounds in 2000-2001. That season was the same season the Raptors came a Vince Carter shot away from the Eastern Conference Final. Reeves career ended with him averaging 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds. In the two plus seasons that Stoudamire was with the Raptors clearly out performed Big Country. The fact he lasted 7 more seasons and played for 4 other franchises is also proof of that. Despite the fact Damon did not last as long he did bring back an asset in Alvin Williams that grew into one of the best all time players for the Raptors franchise. Reeves turned into nothing for the Grizzlies other than a big mistake.
The Grizzlies best season in Vancouver was the last season in Canada with just 23 wins. The Raptors had 23 wins in the lockout shorten season in 1998-99 and 3 other seasons had more than 23 wins. In the 6 years that they were rivals, the Raptors only had one season that they finished with a worse record than Vancouver. That was in 1997-98, the Raptors turned that disappointment into the draft day trade for Vince Carter. At the end of the day the Grizzlies failed for a lot of reasons, but the biggest reason is in their record for 6 years they called Vancouver home. That would be 101 wins and 359 losses, compare that to the Raptors in that same 6 year period who were 182-278. In those last 2 seasons, the Raptors were in the playoffs and had back to back seasons above .500. The Grizzlies in the tougher Western Conference never came close to making the playoffs in 6 years.
The fact the Grizzlies no longer exist in Vancouver based on that fact alone says the Raptors were more successful. That said, is that still the case? Do we still see the Raptors as the more successful franchise overall? Let's take a look at the last 6 years and see what we come up with? Entering into this season the Raptors were only 7 wins better than the Grizzlies over the last 6 years. That is compared to an 81 win difference in Raptors favor in the first 6 years. Now add in the current season with Grizzlies 20-15 mark and the Raptors 11-24 record and The Grizzlies are 223-304 and the Raptors are 221-306. So the Grizzlies have actually surpassed the Raptors in these past 6 years. How did we get to this point?
While the Grizzlies shocked the Spurs and gave the Thunder a run the Raptors were figuring out who should represent them at the NBA Lottery for another year. It makes you stop and think at where this franchise is heading doesn't it? Ask yourself if you would take the Grizzlies roster for the Raptors in the Eastern Conference. Chances are the Grizzlies would be even more successful than the Raptors in the last 6 years if that was the case. While the rivalry is dead the comparison of the two franchises is not.
What makes it even more sad is the fact the Raptors have a loyal and solid fan base that has endured from the start. Vancouver had they got the start the Raptors had maybe this still is a rivalry. Now Raptor fans are the ones that have had to endure with tough times. Stu Jackson was largely to blame for the Grizzlies horrible beginning. Bryan Colangelo has had his share of mistakes over the his time here. The difference is that Colangelo has proved he can produce a winner something Jackson never did. That said, the challenge to be successful is vital. While the Raptors are in a different business situation than the Grizzlies were they still need to win at the end of the day. If the Raptors are to truly get back to where they were that has to happen. Toronto has a loyal fan base that needs to be rewarded with a successful team on the floor. The fact the Grizzlies are closer to that goal should be a major wake up call to everyone that loves the Raptors.
Something to think about as you watch the Grizzlies come to town to visit the Raptors.