By Janika Renee, Special to TSDMemphis.com
David Fizdale’s mother gets emotional at introductory press conference
“It’s a lifelong dream”
Helen Hamilton smiled and wiped away tears of joy as her son, David Fizdale, was being introduced as the new head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday afternoon.
“I have been in and out of gyms and locker rooms and transporting people back and forth for games and things for 35 years,” Hamilton said. “He started playing basketball at a local park in West L.A. when he was eight years old.”
Hamilton sat front row, alongside Fizdale’s wife Natasha Sen, his son Kyle Jackson and his representative Brett Just. And after acknowledging them, his coaching mentors and friends with his former employer The Miami Heat, Fizdale made his intentions clear.
“I’m here to win, and to win now,” Fizdale said. “I didn’t leave the sunshine and beaches and all of that to come here and lose. I want to win, and bring a championship to the city of Memphis.”
Dressed in a gray suit with a light-colored rainbow tie, general manager Chris Wallace introduced Fizdale with excitement and belief that he will bring the city its first championship.
“David brings a championship vision with a detailed plan on how to get the Grizzlies to the next level,” Wallace said. “Most importantly he is a high character individual who will embrace the Memphis community.”
Fizdale replaces Dave Joerger, whom the Grizzlies fired in May for a perceived lack of commitment to the franchise. Joerger was dismissed after three seasons and three playoff appearances, but was immediately hired as head coach of the Sacramento Kings
Fizdale and the team reached an agreement on a four-year deal with a team option for the fourth year. Per team policy, terms were not disclosed.
Fizdale, 41, will get his first opportunity as head coach during the 2016-17 season. However his biggest task begins before the regular season even starts. One of his main priorities is to get Mike Conley, who becomes a free agent in July, to re-sign with the team.
“He’s one of the best pure point guards in the league,” Fizdale said. “I have spoken to Mike Conley and we had a fantastic conversation. He’s going to get sick of me because I’m going to follow him.”
Though none of Joerger’s staff was fired, another task will be for him to find members he may want to fit on his own staff. Fizdale declined to comment on possible candidates for his coaching staff.
Fizdale spent the last eighth seasons as an assistant coach to the Miami Heat. He was head assistant coach to Erik Spoelstra the last two years and was part of the back-to-back championship team with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as its “Big 3.”
Fizdale was contacted by the Grizzlies amid the Heat’s playoff run that ended in Game 7 against Toronto. He was among a list of assistant coaches the Grizzlies narrowed down during their extensive search of a new head coach.
He has previously worked with the Golden State Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks.
Due to a few trades and an astounding number of injuries, Fizdale joins a team who set an NBA record last season by signing 28 different players to their roster.
Though he may have a few challenges, Fizdale believes he was built for this ‘Grit ‘n Grind’ opportunity.
“Our defensive system will definitely be a physical one,” Fizdale said. “So, yes, we are still going to grind teams and hopefully we can get to a point where we can take it even to another level because our offense is putting pressure on them as well.”