Perry and Williams talk Grizzlies with Mearl Purvis - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Perry and Williams talk Grizzlies with Mearl Purvis

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Minority Memphis Grizzlies partners former NBA player Elliot Perry, left, and investment banker Duncan Williams, right Minority Memphis Grizzlies partners former NBA player Elliot Perry, left, and investment banker Duncan Williams, right
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

"This is a blue-collar town. I am a blue-collar worker."

"Blue collar town-blue collar worker." It's Grizzly forward Zach Randolph's go-to phrase.
Ironically, even with his blue collar mentality, fan favorite, ZBo earns millions of dollars.

Similarly ironic, two of the Grizz' biggest fans are now part of the local ownership group.  Five million dollars invested from entrepreneur and former NBA star Elliot Perry and $2.5 million from investment banker Duncan Williams.

They are minority owners; in partnership with one time reported billionaire Robert Pera, founder of Ubiquiti Networks and über-NBA fan.
        
"I'm not here to make a profit," says Pera.  

That quote leads to perhaps the greatest irony, even with comments like that from Pera and a commitment of hundreds of millions to buy the Memphis Grizzlies, people of Memphis still question if he is here to stay; whether he embraces the "Believe Memphis" motto.

Which may leave Pera asking Grizz fans how it is that a winning team, ranked fourth in its conference, is number 18 in attendance.

In an exclusive interview with Perry and Williams, I asked the two about ticket sales, about being owners with Justin Timberlake and about Robert Pera.

MEARL PURVIS:
"When I hear about Robert Pera, it's not always so great, there's a trust factor from this community toward Robert Pera, want to set the record straight."

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"I'll say this, here's a young man who has been successful in business, investment in city, multiple hundred millions of dollars, I would love for ten Robert Peras to come to this city and investing this city."

ELLIOT PERRY:
"More to him than business, his heart is there, commitment there.  After that, just needs to be here, be around more.  We've talked about that on number of occasions."

MEARL PURVIS:
"Did he pick up the phone and say, 'Elliot, I want you to remain an owner?'"

ELLIOT PERRY:
"That conversation came from Jason Levien; lots of meetings with current local owners."

MEARL PURVIS:
So if I'm hearing you correctly,  neither of you have any worries that in five years Robert Pera will be back saying, 'up the ante or I need more money?'"

ELLIOT PERRY & DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"No I don't.  No worries."

MEARL PURVIS:
"No expectations?"

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"No. It won't happen. We have to have that lower bowl (lower tier of seats) full, every single game. What the owners have said 'it's the responsibility to make sure this team is here for a really long, long time. Make sure our kids grow up as Grizzly fans.'"

MEARL PURVIS:
"Ummm, did it hit you in the gut when you knew Rudy was going to be gone, because you both are fans?"

ELLIOT PERRY:
"No question about it. I was not only a fan of Rudy but a good friend of his. I've been traded three times and first time, get traded, especially, if spent your whole career in one place, that's a shock."

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"I've had more small children in the city who are mad at me, than anybody else, all of a sudden, I did that trade...no, no that was other local owners."

ELLIOT PERRY:
"For me it's also keeping the core of this team together. Still a great basketball team, system Lionel Hollins runs. Think we are still a vital team."

MEARL PURVIS:
"Honestly, when you heard Justin Timberlake was an owner, did you dance around the floor or did it not matter?"

ELLIOT PERRY:
"Oh yea, it mattered. It definitely mattered. Trying to pull together a group that could reach far and wide in the community, where my reach may not go, Duncan's does…or Justin, Penny, Bill Rhodes…."

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"It's great. I think my wife and daughter were happiest in the house when we heard about that."

MEARL PURVIS:
"How better equipped are we to go past the second round (of the NBA playoffs)?"

ELLIOT PERRY:
"I think that we have some ingredients and what I mean by that is the ingredients I think we have right now, we are playing together and are moving the basketball. If you look at our offense we have always been a good defensive team. But where we suffered was when the offense got stagnant or people hold the basketball or stopped or tried to play one-on-one. Now what we are doing now is playing inside and out like dunking. Also moving the basketball so if the guy's open, he's getting the basketball. Now you are able to take better and quality shots."

MEARL PURVIS:
"Let's look five years down the road. What team are we going to see? What Grizzlies team is going to hit the floor?"

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"I think the fans Marc (Gasol) will be the best center in the league. Mike Conley will be the best point guard in league. Austin (Daye) will probably be the best three-man in the league. I think what we've done is created a good chance to have a consistent future. I love hearing ZBo in early 30s, and he's ZBo so he's going for a while. You know Tony (Allen) is going to be around. I will tell you this, I truly do believe in five years we will have the FedExForum will be full, it will be rocking will be a fun place to be, it will be the event we all want to be at. So it's time to get on board now. Time to become that now so five years from now we look back and say, 'Duncan was right. Look how smart Duncan was.'"

MEARL PURVIS:
"So let's look at 2022. We still have an NBA team in Memphis, yes?"

DUNCAN WILLIAMS:
"Oh yes. I have no fear in saying this, I don't think (our) NBA team...I would tell you that in 2030 we'll have an NBA team. I don't think the Memphis Grizzlies are going anywhere for a long, long, long time."

 

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