On Friday, Vox Media announced budget cuts that would impact SB Nation blogs that cover the NBA, NHL, and MLS. Unfortunately, I was informed that Grizzly Bear Blues would no longer be monetized by Vox Media after February 28th.
First off, I want to send my condolences to the other blogs on this network with the same fate. Over at SB Nation, there’s a special blend of national coverage of all the major and collegiate sports, as well as the communities geared for in-depth analysis on specific teams. From there, you can find hundreds of comments on articles — and though it may be a mountain to go through all of them, there’s a theme centered across all of it: a community. This news deteriorates that community aspect of this very network — leaving plenty of websites figuring out their next steps, and the ones staying wondering if or when they’re next.
Grizzly Bear Blues is a special website with unique Grizzlies coverage. GBB has covered all 3 aspects of the Memphis Grizzlies organization: the actual team, the Memphis Hustle, and Grizz Gaming. You can find a quick recap on a game within 15 minutes of the final buzzer — and depending on the game, it can be right when the horn sounds. From there, you can find in-depth analysis such as gamely report cards, film and stat breakdowns, columns, and so much more. Whether it’s the #4 pick in a wild 2018 draft, or the 2020 draft where they only had the 40th pick (we covered 45 prospects for that class), GBB hits the ground running on draft coverage.
There are a few pieces that come to mind for me. The very first column I remember reading of Joe Mullinax was his “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” free agency breakdown on Chandler Parsons — an article he could’ve kept specific, but tied it into a captivating real-life theme. Ross Jarrar’s “Week-Side Help” column was always one of my favorite reads on the blog. Then, I learned something new each time reading Brandon Abraham’s Hustle Reports and Shawn Coleman’s stat breakdowns. By the way, can we still talk about how Shawn nailed the 2020 draft on this blog?
We have 5 different podcasts on the network — all with their unique sound and perspective on the show, including a specific show geared towards the booming sports betting phenomena. We have podcasts that have had several members of the organization — from players, to coaches, to members of Grind City Media — and national media from places like ESPN, the Athletic, and The Ringer. We’ve also had the local guests from the Commercial Appeal, Daily Memphian, Memphis Flyer, 92.9 ESPN, and Sports 56. You don’t find these lanes geared towards specific teams at many other places.
At Grizzly Bear Blues, a lot of us started with a feature only on specific community sites: Fanposts. Joe Mullinax, Shawn Coleman, Brandon Abraham, Nathan Chester, and I all got our start at Grizzly Bear Blues and blogging with the Fanpost feature.
For others, Grizzly Bear Blues was just the start of bigger things ahead. Kevin Lipe and Matt Preston moved on to write about the Grizzlies for the Memphis Flyer. Kevin and Jonah Jordan were a part of the launch of the Daily Memphian. Mark King, Shawn Coleman, and now Joe Mullinax have been hosts for the “Locked On Grizzlies” podcast. Tom Lorenzo, the website’s first Site Manager, has been at NetsDaily covering the Brooklyn Nets for SB Nation. Chip Williams worked at WREG Action News 5, Grace Baker became a local radio producer, and Molly Morrison is now working for the social team at Bleacher Report.
And many of these people — Grace, Kevin, Mark, and Matt — have covered the Grizzlies live as a credential media member for Grizzly Bear Blues, and that’s an area I’ve been blessed to be a part of the past 4 seasons. Through this opportunity, I’ve been able to put out my best work and grow as a writer because of the insight received from players and coaches.
All of this was possible because of the SB Nation platform for Grizzly Bear Blues, and the work Tom, Kevin, Chris Faulkner, Joe, and I have put in to grow the brand.
With all of this said, this news is a somber reality for those a part of this network and this industry. It could vanish at any moment.
However, in conjunction with all the great elements of GBB, I want to quote something Joe Mullinax always told us:
GBB is a stepping stone.
Despite the crushing news this past Friday, I’m optimistic that this will serve as a stepping stone for Grizzly Bear Blues. This may be the end of GBB’s time with Vox Media and SB Nation, but I’m confident there is another level to be unlocked with what’s next for this great website. I have until February 28th to figure out what they may look like, but GBB won’t be going anywhere, and I’m excited about the next direction underway.
And for the readers and followers here at GBB, I hope you stay on this side with us. A new era for GBB is upon us.