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Grizzlies owner Robert Pera sounds like a delusional mess

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) May 26, 2014 Around the NBA 11 Comments

robert pera

In case you missed the drama unfolding between Memphis and Minnesota recently, here’s a quick synopsis.

First-year head coach Dave Joerger was granted permission to talk to the Minnesota Timberwolves (Joerger is from Minnesota, by the way), and had, by all accounts, gotten the job.  Then suddenly, when a little matter of compensation came up, the Grizzlies backed off, and Joerger returned to the team.

To put it a way we might better understand, this would be like Brad Stevens being given permission to interview for a vacant Pacers job this summer, being granted permission, then suddenly returning to the Celtics.

Anyway, this whole incident is shining a light on Robert Pera, the 34-year-old owner of the Grizz.  Suddenly, a guy few people really knew much about is being cast as a bit of a delusional hot-head in a new Chris Mannix piece on SI.com.

The genesis of the Joerger-Pera problems, according to league sources, dates back to last September. Pera — who fancies himself a pretty good player — challenged Tony Allen to a game of one-on-one. Allen, on Twitter, accepted. Pera, a Silicon Valley billionaire who bought a small controlling interest in the Grizzlies in 2012, poured tens of thousands of dollars into producing the matchup. He invited the media and instructed the public relations staff to issue a press release promoting the event.

The problem? Allen had lost interest. Joerger, a first-year head coach, didn’t like the idea of the game — like many in the organization he found it goofy and unbecoming of a professional team, according to sources — but it was Allen’s indifference that caused it to be called off. Yet Pera directed his frustration at Joerger and, according to a source, directed upper management to fire him.

Said a source familiar with the situation, “He absolutely wanted Dave out.”

So this 34-year-old tech billionaire feels like he can ball with the big boys, so he set up a 1-on-1 with Tony Allen.  Of course, it fizzled, the owner blamed the coach, and subsequently decided he wanted the coach fired for it.

Crazy right?

It gets better:

It was the first of several early season clashes between Joerger and Pera. When the Grizzlies opened the season 2-3 — including double-digit defeats to Dallas and New Orleans — Pera flew to Memphis and held individual meetings with players, sources say. He began offering bizarre suggestions. He suggested Mike Miller, a longtime Grizzlies player who was re-signed in the offseason, could become a player-coach. He brought up the idea that Joerger could wear an NFL-style headset and take instructions on the sideline. When the Grizzlies faced Golden State in early November, Pera insisted that Joerger give significant minutes to fourth-year power forward Ed Davis. Davis played just one. Again, according to sources, Pera insisted that Joerger had to go. Only after it was explained how dysfunctional the franchise would look if it fired a first year head coach six games into the season did Pera back down.

Can you imagine a coach with an NFL-style headset taking orders from the owner?  And then there’s the hysterical, uncanny parallel to this:

Suddenly, Spencer Hall’s hilarious suggestion that Mike Miller’s monkey ownership qualified him to be a leader seems less ridiculous than the reality of the situation. 

Memphis has a hot-headed, hair-trigger owner who harbors delusions of exceptional basketball ability.  His Twitter profile pic is of him shooting while wearing a shooting sleeve.  When I see a guy walk into the gym wearing a shooting sleeve for a pick-up game, I roll my eyes and, if I’ve been playing long enough, I leave.  Shooting-sleeve guy thinks he’s a God who could have gone big time but he didn’t get the right breaks.  Shooting sleeve guy passes so infrequently and jacks such ridiculous shots that Russell Westbrook tells him to cool it.

Robert Pera is shooting-sleeve guy… and he happens to own an NBA franchise.  I’m sorry, Memphis.  You really have one hell of a mess on your hands right now.

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  • Herman Bubbert

    He sounds like Don Sterling Jr.

  • RedwasKing

    “Shooting Sleeve Guy”… priceless

  • bill_nair

    Spot on. Thought the same thing when I heard him and the FO weren’t getting along.

  • Eisenhorn1976

    The article forgot to mention, as part of its guy assertion that Pera is delusional, that he challenged Michael Jordan to a one-on-one match (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1814600-michael-jordan-fires-back-at-robert-pera-calls-1-on-1-challenge-comical).

    Jordan didn’t bite and was actually quite gracious (for him), saying it was a “no win” situation for him. Privately, I think he was telling people that he doesn’t play hoops with the f***kin ballboys.

    I mean, seriously — one-on-one against MJ was beyond ridiculous — but even one-on-one against Tony Allen suggests that this guy is totally out-of-sync with reality. This is the same Tony Allen who gave the Slim Reaper fits in the first round.

    • Corba Kai

      He’s a successful guy, of course he wants to go up against the best. I doubt he thinks he can win, but wants to test himself.

      • Eisenhorn1976

        Sure — but there’s a line between successful and being an ego-maniac. You don’t see Bill Gates trying a stunt like this and even Steve Jobs, who was incredibly opinionated and strong-willed, knew when to back-off.

        You’d think a successful guy would know that: part of business 101 is knowing your strengths and limitations. This guy is more like the newly-rich tech entrepreneurs of the dotcom era — he got lucky with ONE THING and suddenly, he’s the best AT EVERYTHING. This is why the VCs that populate the boards of these tech companies eventually try to hire a grown-up to run the business.

        • Corba Kai

          Bill Gates doesn’t play basketball. This guy does. He works out with the team and assistant coaches pretty often. If you were the young owner of an NBA team and loved playing and competing, it wouldn’t be insane to want to challenge yourself against pros. Same as rich guys that want to play golf with Tiger Woods or play poker with Doyle Brunson.

  • romeo0119

    Lol having too much money can make you delusional, TA would probably put him in check with his defense. Would have love to see this match up lol

    • Curt Hays

      If he’d bet money against TA, TA would’ve played. :-)

  • adam

    Sounds like he should stick to Fantasy Basketball on Yahoo.

  • Karl Meyer

    Another classic example of rich guys with more money than brains (in a sports sense) running off half-cocked after getting their little egos bent out of shape. Still can’t believe the Carpetbaggers who own the Warriors fired Mark Jackson!