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Grizzlies mourn loss of Bartow

Following Tuesday’s win against the Sacramento Kings, Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins began his press conference with some heart-felt words.

 
Legendary college basketball coach Gene Bartow lost his battle to stomach cancer on Tuesday (Jan. 3) at his home in Birmingham.He was saluted at the Memphis-Tennessee game at the FedExForum on Wednesday night. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

“I want to give my condolences and prayers out to Gene Bartow’s family,” Hollins said.  “Gene was a great member of our community, outstanding person, outstanding coach, and he was a great friend to me since I’ve been here in this organization. I’m going to miss him.”

Bartow – legendary as a coach and revered as a person – died of stomach cancer earlier in the day at his home in Birmingham, Ala. He was 81.

Forever associated with the 1973 Memphis State University team that he coached to the NCAA National Championship game, Bartow spent 11 seasons with the Grizzlies, including  five years as president of Hoops LP, which operates the Grizzlies and FedExForum. He also served as an advisor on basketball and team-related matters and as a community ambassador.

The Grizz wore the initials “GB” on their sneakers during Wednesday’s (Jan. 4) contest against Minnesota, and will honor him throughout the season.

“Yesterday, I lost a great friend from within the Grizzlies family,” said Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. “My heart goes out to Ruth, his children and grandchildren during this difficult time. I will miss this gentle Christian man enormously.”

Chris Wallace, Grizzlies general manager and vice president of Basketball Operations, said,  “Coach Bartow had the rare distinction of being a consummate gentleman while at the same time being the consummate competitor.”

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