Former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins helping to chart Shelby County’s future

GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — Former Memphis Grizzlies Coach Lionel Hollins came to Memphis to coach basketball, but he's staying to make it better.

He left the Grizzlies as head coach in 2013, left twice for other coaching jobs, but never stopped calling the area home.

Now, he wants to not just live here in Shelby County — he's signed on to help chart its future, as part of incoming county Mayor Lee Harris' transition team.

"It was my home even before I became the head coach of the Grizzlies," Hollins said from his Germantown home. "I moved from Phoenix here about 16 years ago, and we've got roots here ...

"It's just a great place for raising families. Two of my kids graduated from Germantown High School and so, you know how you get somewhere and it gets comfortable and it's home, and you say what's the point of going somewhere else."

The former NBA coach is now entering a new arena: county government. Harris recently tapped Hollins as one of the leaders of his transition team. They'll come up with the slate of individuals who'll oversee everything from the county's finances to the health department to the county correctional facility.

"We're going to try and put together a list," Hollins said. "And people will be applying and trying vet people from that perspective as who can be viable and helpful as the mayor goes forward."

Hollins says he supported Harris because they both believe in supporting public education and diversifying programs so everyone benefits from government. He plans to use his connections in the business and sports world to help the new mayor improve the Memphis area — an area he once told New York reporters was in the "Stone Age."

"I wasn't speaking on Memphis being a negative city. I was speaking on New York being so huge and so fast, and people took it the wrong way."

Hollins says basketball is still his passion but we asked if politics is in his future.

"I'm doing that right now with this transition team. That's as far as I go," he said.