Exclusive: Grizzlies Coach Hopes to Stay, Gets Fan Support

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(Memphis) Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins, whose contract expires on June 30, has been the center of speculation after the team owners gave him permission to talk to other teams.

Hollins has stated he would like to stay in Memphis, and the fans have taken to the Internet to show their support.

“There’s all kinds of things said and reported, not all of it true. You just have to roll with the punches, and stay beneath the radar and let the process take its place,” Hollins told News Channel 3 in an exclusive interview.

Hollins said that his agent is in talks with team management, and he hopes to have the matter resolved soon.

Referencing “philosophical differences,” Hollins said, “Any difference can be resolved. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on, but from my perspective, I love my players, I love what we’ve accomplished.”

As far as other offers, he said, “Never say never,” but that a stay in Memphis “would be positive.”

Sports media reports of an alleged spat between him and Grizzlies official John Hollinger also created a stir, but Hollins said, “We were together this morning laughing about it. I mean, there are things that happen in the course of practice, in the course of a game, within a family, that gets blown out of proportion if you’re not a part of that family.”

That Grizzlies “family” includes the fans, some of which who have expressed their opinions on a Facebook page called “Fans for Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins – Memphis.”

Monique Whitaker created the page two nights ago, when she heard about all the controversy in extending Hollins’ contract.

She said she wanted to “reach out and let the owners know the city stands behind Coach Lionel completely, one hundred percent.”

Whitaker purchased season tickets for the first time last year, though she’s been a fan for a long time. She said she’s been interviewing people on the streets of downtown Memphis, as well as getting feedback from Facebook users online.

One fan even posted his support from Japan.

“They’re asking, what can they do to keep him to stay?” Whitaker said. “A couple of young ladies said if he leaves, we leave…Another lady on the page said, I’m a season ticket holder. If he leaves, I won’t buy any more tickets.”

She said the public wants to know what’s going on.

Hollins said he is humbled and honored that the city has embraced him as the coach.