Here are my own reactions and thoughts on Grizzlies controlling owner Robert Pera's Twitter Q&A yesterday for all you who might have missed it.
To preview my thought track: I started out feeling very optimistic but then realized Pera was answering very few of the tough questions about halfway through the session. Nevertheless, it was considerate of Pera to block off more than an hour of his day to answer direct questions from
some of Memphis Grizzlies Twitter.
GrizzNation…I know it’s long overdue…I would like to do a Q&A session with you guys. What do you want to know? #FactsOnly— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Overdue is an accurate description for addressing the past week.
@stukeyx2 I think I'll go with Central BBQ...but still lots of more places to try!— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
No doubt this was an unpopular first response from the Griz camp seeing as how the Rendevous is the official BBQ sponsor for the Grizzlies. But I would bet a solid 95% of Memphians would agree with Pera on this one.
@rachwhitaker89 Yes..we are continuing to improve. Supporting 10,000 concurrent wifi connections not trivial— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
This one is getting old. Fix it or give a solid timetable for fixing it. As someone without a smart phone I could actually not care any less about this one, but it makes sense for an internet technology magnate to hook up functional wifi in his basketball arena.
@RaganSmash YES! And contrary to reports, I never had a conversation with Minnesota..it never got that far— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
One of the meatiest tidbits that was offered up by Pera. You can hear the bro-fense in the all-capped "YES!"as Pera admits he never even talked to Minnesota. But someone gave Joerger permission to interview...coughLeviencough? (inquisitive coughs want to know)
@JohnnyNBA I think Dave is a great coach. But, personnel has to want to be in Memphis. I know now Dave 100% wants to be here— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
I like the theme of personnel having to want to be in Hoop City. We have seen how things turn out when people don't want to be here, and as much as I love our city ... Memphis isn't necessarily a place you want to be shackled to if you're not digging it.
@doctorchris I will open up the checkbook and do whatever it takes to bring us closer to a championship organization— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Well all right then! Although this could be damage-control pandering, I tend to believe Pera when he says he'll drop green to win a title. I really do think that is probably priority #2 in his life after maintaining his blossoming tech empire.
@MississippiRebs More this year than previous years combined for sure— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Nice to hear, but I estimate his previous years combined to be around 3-4 games. Looks like Pera picked up a few political tricks from Levien before he axed him.
@mynewhate The Graduation hands down the best one— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
I hate Kanye West so I'll just leave it alone.
Non-confrontational at all costs. In his defense, he probably used up his current cache of confrontation when
he fired he forced his best friend to resign last week.
@thesulton25 I never really talked 1:1 with Joerger before this weekend. I think he's a great coach.— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
This one really surprised me. I'm sure it's probably a common practice in pro sports, but it seems like if you let a 56-win coach walk you'd want to get inside the replacement's head for a few minutes. This also speaks to the roadblock that Levien had possibly put up around Pera.
@shawnintheflesh Very few if any— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Aww, that's sweet. But if we're honest with ourselves we know that Conley probably sits outside the Top 5 in that category.
@StevieDanziger In retrospect, I should have called out a rival team's player to play. Who would be good?— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Yeah, if someone's going to tear an ACL in a pickup game with an NBA owner it would preferably be someone on another team and not Tony Allen. While I do enjoy this aspect of Pera and would most definitely watch the game, it's a bit silly. But I'm also a bit silly (crazy even) and I won't knock Pera too hard for trying to get involved and fire up the fans.
@Enoch4233 Yes, will be looking for SW developers...email firstname.lastname@example.org if interested— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
There's his email addy in case you needed it. It's keen of Rob to invest in the city and help create some jobs. (BTW Rob, if you need a personal chef you can email me at email@example.com)
@jwgerber6 We are conducting a search now. Whether we decide on Chris or not for GM, I want him in the organization in some capacity— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Another chunk of meat to gnaw at: Considering Wallace has been kept around for the first two years of the new ownership it makes me believe that Robert Pera has an honest appreciation for the guy. Either that or Chris Wallace is made of at least 73% teflon. I like Wallace a lot and, although he's botched some of the top selections, he has a decent history of finding capable players in the lower half of the first round of the draft.
@meredithhood_ Player Development! We need urgency across the board and players working hard to get better over next 3 months!— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
I also sense something from this message. If loyalty and transparency are Peramount in Rob's front office relations (and he apparently doesn't mess around with those standards) then we could eventually see a line drawn in the sand with players and the dedication to honing their craft. If I'm under contract with the Grizzlies I'm hitting the gym starting yesterday.
@stukeyx2 Just been told Rendezvous is our sponsor and I shouldn't have said that...I better get down there and try it!— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Mincberg finally got Pera to pick up the phone. Don't sweat it Rob. Let your taste buds make the final decision.
@mattwaits Very involved. I was at the draft combine in Chicago. Who do you like at 22nd pick?— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Cool? I don't know... This definitely has shades of "meddling" tinged around the corners, but as long as Pera trusts the people he's leaving in place for Basketball Ops it should probably end up being a consensus decision for our pick this year. We've yet to really see what kind of players Pera digs on, but I have a strong feeling he's desiring some flash.
@cbg2r That's a great idea! We have to look into that— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Writes check... plane shows up. The real question is will he have his own private jet that rides alongside Air Grizz so he can travel with the team without, you know, having to talk to anyone in person.
This is something I actually believe 100%. (Both parts: the championship thing and the fact that the spotlight doesn't interest him and, in fact, probably really disinterests him.)
@colinroper Jason Wexler is a superstar. One of my top priorities right now is empowering him.— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
EMPOWER! Do it. Wexler is a big part of that "Best Franchise in Sports" label we snatched up last year. Downtown Memphis and the FedexForum are becoming quite the playground for adults.
@jsherm23 Nick, Quincy, Jon, Ed, JJ....all huge potential. Need your guys's help to get on their case about training right now— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Pshh, you lost me there. Those multi-million dollar checks you're writing should be all the help that's needed in that regard. But I'll play along: Ed, if you're reading, we need at least 100 pushups a day and 1000 free throws from you.
@russellrooks It's awesome! It's too bad the main VC character passed away..he was great— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Uhh, now I know how people feel when I start talking about X-Men on Twitter. #Clueless
@RMGillenwater I am an NBA fanatic...no other league/sport comes close— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Cool, at least we don't have to worry about him trying to buy a Roller Derby franchise.
You don't have to believe us but you can still read us! This is about the Milla Jovovich thing isn't it? You don't have to wear the white tape costume if you don't want to.
@ChrisRTS I will aim to be as transparent as possible under condition it does not hurt our team's competitive advantage— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Or also if it's extremely uncomfortable or possibly legally dangerous to do so as he never responded to any of my questions about Jason Levien.
@tommy_ewing We are so close...I can feel it. I think we just need to be tighter as a team between Dave,myself,FO,players— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
This I like as long as he can still adhere to "hire the best people and let them do their jobs" notion. A 36-year-old owner should probably be tight with his team.
@deepfriedcouch Not really...people who have closely followed my career know I have been through far worse— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
He had some rough patches right around the time of his controlling purchase of the team when I believe his Ubiquiti stock took a significant hit. Also, I'm still trying to decide if he has emotions or not.
@MikeMillerGNG I played on my highschool team, but haven't played in 15 years..if I can't play at high level, my week will just get ruined— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Which is why he probably has a personal basketball trainer and works on his game all the time. This man only whole-asses things.
@suzinlaury going from 28 years old not having $ for an apartment to 6 years later Zbo shaking my hand and calling me "Mr Pera"..bizarre— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
That quite a turnaround. What's your six-year plan?
He has said he wants FedexForum to be on the vanguard of arena technology. I recommend having solar road panels installed in the mile or so vicinity around the Forum.
@juicemancometh I am open to it if it gets us closer to a championship— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
Another neat tidbit, but I think he'd probably only swallow the tax hit if it included a superstar player a la Carmelo, KD, LeBron etc.
Thanks everyone for the questions! We'll have Q&A sessions periodically moving forward. I really care about our team and will do my best!— Robert J Pera (@RobertPera) May 25, 2014
My final takeaway:
This was a really swell gesture (I typically use 1950's jargon when being tongue-in-cheek, thanks Keith Edwards) but as I put it yesterday, this was only the triage for the operational hemorrhaging that took place last week. A Twitter Q&A allows Pera to answer the questions he wants while avoiding the need to deflect all the tough questions without having to repeatedly spout out "I can't answer that right now" in a public setting. Even without having to answer questions about what happened with Jason Levien and why Dave Joerger was allowed to interview in Minnesota, he likely received a ton of inquiries about those topics and probably has a better feel of what the fans are feeling just by offering the chance to receive those questions. That's a great strategy as long as he actually has an official press conference to bury any remaining hatchets that might be laying around the premises of FedexForum.
This was a good place to start, but by no means a proper place to finish.
The veil over controlling owner Robert Pera might be a little more transparent (I'm getting so sick of that damn word now) but there are still patches of opacity riddled throughout the composition of the organization. I don't need to know all the dramatic details of how Jason Levien is a conniving little skeeve, but I would like to know that I can trust the Memphis Grizzlies to not upheave everything again in a year or two. How can Pera earn that trust? A patchwork Twitter Q&A is a nice start, but as for this Grizzlies fan and blog editor, I need something more conclusive than a virtual fist bump through social media. (And please, for God's sake, have a few more pictures taken at games this season so I don't have to keep using one of the three available photos we have for you.)