Report: Fizdale alienated Grizzlies with constant talk about 'the Miami way'
David Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies just 19 games into his second season as the team's head coach, thanks in large part to a well-chronicled rift with star center Marc Gasol.
However, Gasol was reportedly far from the only Grizzlies player Fizdale alienated during his brief tenure. Fizdale took the Memphis job after spending years competing for titles with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as a Miami Heat assistant coach. He came aboard with a mandate to dismantle the team's "Grit 'n' Grind" culture and remodel the franchise in the Heat's image, a Grizzlies source told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
"... He didn't care who Marc was and he didn't care how the offense was, he didn't care about the style we were playing. It was going to be about - 'This is a new era. The Memphis stuff is over. That Grit 'n' Grind is done,'" the source told Bondy. "Then he turns around and says, 'We're going to do it the Miami Way. When we were in Miami, we did this, when we were in Miami, we did that.'
"The players didn't respect that. If you're going to talk about Miami, we should be able to talk about Memphis."
He also reportedly deepened the rift with Gasol and the rest of the team after his first season at the helm by pushing management to get rid of veterans Zach Randolph and Tony Allen - two longtime Grizzlies who were deeply embedded in the fabric of the team's culture.
"He wanted his own locker room," the source said of Fizdale. "And he basically convinced management to get rid of Zach, to get rid of Tony Allen."
As for his frosty relationship with Gasol, things apparently got particularly uncomfortable in the locker room after an early-season loss. According to Bondy's source, Fizdale went around the room asking his players if they believed the team could win a championship.
"No," Gasol reportedly said. "We don't have the right leader."
Fizdale's comeback, according to the source: "I get it, you want Gregg Popovich, and I want LeBron James."
Despite having his first NBA head coaching job cut short after just 107 total games, Fizdale landed on his feet in short order, snagging the New York Knicks gig not six months after being ousted from Memphis.