How do you really say goodbye to someone who has meant so much to so many?
What words could really comfort the man who endured the losing seasons of the then-Vancouver Grizzlies, but yet came back to coach the Memphis Grizzlies to the Western Conference Championship?
How does new ownership really explain to the loyal legion of Grizz Nation how "differing views" turned into the non-renewal of a contract and the firing of a coach?
Yeah, it really is hard to say goodbye, especially when it seems like just "yesterday" that the city of Memphis was united in support of the impressive playoff run that April's Coach of the Month helped spearhead.
Jason Levien, chief executive officer and managing partner of the Grizzlies, said they decided after talks with now ex-head coach Lionel Hollins and his agent to go in a different direction. He thanked the veteran coach for his work with the franchise since its start in Vancouver.
"After a thorough internal process, which included conversations with Lionel and his representatives, we decided as an organization to move in a different direction," Levien said in his statement.
"'The entire Grizzlies' family wishes Lionel all the best and great success as he moves forward in his career."
As he moves forward in his career? Whether you are a Grizzlies fan fanatic or just support the team because they are in Memphis, you have to admit that something just doesn't seem right or fair about that statement.
Coaches are typically dismissed after several losing seasons, not after leading their team to a franchise best 56-26 record. Coaches are historically released for failing in the playoffs, not for their team making the Western Conference Finals. The disbelief and skepticism of Grizz Nation certainly seems warranted about this decision.
Well Coach Hollins, we take this opportunity to thank you for your years of dedication and service to the Memphis Grizzlies.
We thank you for leading our Grizzlies to a record 56 games this year, the most in franchise history.
We thank you for advancing us to the Western Conference finals for the first time ever.
We thank you for cultivating the Grizzlies' "grit and grind" culture, which emphasized defense first.
We thank you for a team ranked No. 2 in the league in defensive efficiency this season, with center Marc Gasol winning the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award and guards Mike Conley and Tony Allen joining him on the All-Defensive First or Second Team.
Most of all, we thank you for being a class act – both on and off the court – for the city of Memphis.
Parting definitely is sweet sorrow coach. We love you and we wish you and your family all the best!