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Grizz Coach Hollins nets a day of honor for a season of hard work

O.J. Mayo and Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins
O. J. Mayo and Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins
 

Amid a marathon City Council meeting to hash out a city budget, Mayor A C Wharton, City Council Chairman Myron Lowery and other council members paused to recognize Hollins for a job well done. Memphis Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins walked into City Hall with his usual confident stride on Tuesday afternoon. He bypassed picketers outside the front door. He strolled by sanitation workers with signs reminding people that they are men and right by members of the media.

 
Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins has some observations for O. J. Mayo. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

All were headed into the same room, but for varying reasons. Whatever adversity individuals in the building were facing or anticipating, many drew up smiles when they came face to face with Hollins.

People stopped to greet him, shake his hand, have a brief conversation and/or pat him on the back.

It has all come with the territory that goes with coaching the Grizz to its first successful playoff run in franchise history and within reach of the NBA Western Conference finals. Amid a marathon City Council meeting to hash out a city budget, Mayor A C Wharton, City Council Chairman Myron Lowery and other council members paused to recognize Hollins for a job well done. A proclamation reflected that sentiment.

With devastating floods throughout Memphis and the Mid-South as the backdrop, Hollins and the Grizzlies gave Memphians something to believe in during a 13-game playoff run that included an upset over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and a thrilling seven-game series with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Grizzlies earned their first seven postseason wins in team history and tallied a 5-1 record in front of six consecutive sellout crowds at FedExForum.

“It was humbling to witness the positive impact that we had on the city at a time when many were dealing with hardships caused by the floods,” Hollins said. “To see people in the community united through basketball and to receive the support that we did throughout our playoff run is something I’ll always cherish.”

These days, Hollins can barely have lunch or dinner without receiving standing ovations and signing autographs. During adversity, racial tension, natural disasters and other hardships, Memphians historically have united to support their winning sports teams.  

Since taking the reins as head coach on Jan. 25, 2009, Hollins has guided Memphis to a 99-104 record (.488) after the team had gone 55-152 (.266) in the previous two-and-a-half seasons. In just more than two years, Hollins has already eclipsed Mike Fratello as the all-time winningest head coach in team history. A 20-year NBA coaching veteran, Hollins has a lifetime NBA head coaching record of 117-150 (.438), which includes two stints as an interim head coach (1999-2000, 2004) for the Grizzlies.

Those stats don’t reveal one other important fact about Hollins: He believes in giving to the community and walks that talk.

Here’s a partial scorecard on that:

He has been an active participant in the Grizzlies Community Investment programs.

His own foundation, Lionel Hollins Charities, offers school supplies and other enhancements to underprivileged youth.

Annually, his charity hosts the Role Model Dinner, Bowling For Backpacks and Bike Buddies.

Way to go coach!

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