NBA players and analysts were shocked after the Memphis Grizzlies fired David Fizdale on Monday. According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Fizdale’s “deteriorating relationship” with team leader Marc Gasol has led to the former head coach’s firing.
Speaking to ESPN news anchor Antonietta Collins in a recent episode of SportsCenter, Wojnarowski said that the combination of the Grizzlies’ eight-game losing skid and the “deteriorating relationship” between Fizdale and “key Memphis players, primarily Marc Gasol” has eventually resulted to the coach’s midseason dismissal.
Wojnarowski continued to say that Fizdale and Gasol “have never been on the same page” since last season and that “both of them tried to work through it together.”
The Grizzlies finished last season, Fizdale’s first with the team, at seventh place in the West with a 43-39 record. They were eliminated by second-seeded squad San Antonio Spurs in the first round, 4-2.
Fizdale led Memphis to a strong 7-4 start this season. However, starting point guard Mike Conley’s injury woes have led to the team losing eight straight games. The situation got even worse as Fizdale and Gasol’s rapport began to further break down.
“I know that there was frustration on both sides,” Wojnarowski said, “from David Fizdale’s point of view as a coach and Marc Gasol from his point of view as the franchise player.”
Wojnarowski then said that “in the NBA, the star player is going to win out in that case.”
However, the insider acknowledged that Gasol did not ask the Grizzlies to fire Fizdale. Gasol is said to be “not consulted” by the front office about the head coach’s firing and that the organization’s leaders made the decision on their own.
Fizdale left Gasol warming on the Grizzlies’ bench during the entire fourth quarter of the team’s 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets at the FedExForum on Sunday night. The three-time NBA All-Star was noticeably upset after the game, telling Grizzlies beat reporter Ronald Tillery that he was “angry and frustrated” about what happened.
Meanwhile, Fizdale defended his decision, saying that he did it based on the “reserves playing well and cutting into the Brooklyn lead” in the final period, per ESPN. When he was asked about his response to Gasol’s post-game comments, Fizdale simply said that it will be addressed if needed.
Not more than 18 hours later, Fizdale was replaced by assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff as the Grizzlies’ new chief bench tactician.
[Featured Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images]