NBA All-Star Steve Francis had put the previous—what occurred his rookie yr after being drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies—behind him utterly when he was instantly approached by Kat Jayme, a filmmaker and longtime fan, who hoped to inform his story in a documentary that may uncover the reality behind what occurred to the franchise earlier than relocating to Memphis. After publicly expressing his sentiments about enjoying in Vancouver, adopted by a commerce to Houston, Francis admits now over Zoom that he didn’t even pay a lot consideration to the controversy all through his total NBA profession. That is, till James boldly traveled all the best way to a signing occasion in Houston simply to satisfy him and ask if he might be part of the movie. That venture would later turn into, The Grizzlie Truth, which is now premiering on the Toronto Film Festival.
Jayme didn’t come empty handed, although. She’d introduced alongside an enormous poster of an animation of Francis on draft day carrying his Houston Rockets jersey with the Vancouver Grizzlies brand within the background. The gesture was sufficient to impress the previous No. 1 decide.
“For somebody to come to Houston, Toyota Center, where my face is planted all throughout the [arena], knowing how people looked at me in Vancouver, at that point, I was surprised,” Francis says of assembly Jayme for the primary time. He later provides: “I would have never thought about coming [to Vancouver] if I wouldn’t have [met] Kat, but, you know, people have different effects on people and the way that she came [to me] was very respectful. That’s what opened the door.”
Jayme admits on the identical Zoom name that she was nervous to even method Francis within the first place. She had a script ready, which she wrote down on her arms, and was pacing backwards and forwards outdoors of the sector whereas practising how she was going to introduce herself, not to mention persuade him to be part of the movie. “Steve is part of the Vancouver Grizzlies’ history. And so, that was kind of my pitch to him, like, You are a part of this story. I am making this film [and] I’d love for you to be a part of it because we need to talk about what happened. I would love for you to have your own voice in it because people are gonna be talking about you.”
The pitch, and Jayme’s sincerity, labored. Not simply Francis, but additionally convincing former gamers, coaches and members of the Vancouver Grizzlies group to be interviewed for the movie. The result’s a candid and charming investigation into the lengthy misplaced historical past of the workforce, and in the end what led to the franchise leaving Vancouver.
To be taught extra about what went into filming The Grizzlie Truth, and the influence the movie has on retelling a chunk of NBA historical past, SLAM caught up with Jayme and Francis whereas they had been in Vancouver selling the movie. It was the primary time Francis had been again there in over 20 years.
SLAM: When did you, Kat, first begin enthusiastic about making this movie?
KAT JAYME: When I used to be in college, I went to movie faculty, and I believe, you recognize, I used to be so into 30 for 30s and I used to be identical to, I’ve the right story—the story of the Vancouver Grizzlies. I believe each filmmaker has that one story of their profession that they need to inform and for me it was the story of Vancouver Grizzlies, primarily as a result of I knew my private connection to the workforce—I’ve pictures of me at video games, I’ve footage, as you see within the movie of me at video games, I’ve childhood drawings of the workforce, I’ve all these, like, all of the toys. Documentaries that I really like are ones which have many layers, and I simply knew with the archival that I had, that it was the proper story for me to inform.
SLAM: That’s wonderful, and for you, Steve, what was it wish to have somebody inform your story? Were you nervous in any respect?
STEVE FRANCIS: Uh, as a result of the final picture the Vancouver followers had of me was on the [NBA] Draft [and] the hostility each time I performed right here, it sort of felt slightly relieving to have the ability to speak to any person who wished to listen to my aspect of the story and didn’t simply put me in a field [about] what was stated about me in ‘99 until probably this film. I still get people from Vancouver that’ll say, “What are you doing here? We don’t like you.” But, I’ve been by means of a lot in order that doesn’t imply something to me.
KJ: I really feel like that’s gonna change after folks watch the movie.
SLAM: Steve, how did you start to course of every part and the adversity you needed to take care of and nonetheless go on the market on the court docket each evening?
SF: If you take a look at my NBA profession and the best way I performed, it didn’t make a distinction what was stated about me. So, till I retired and Kat introduced it again up, I by no means actually considered retouching on it. I [took] some pictures right here and there, I couldn’t take pictures on the entire metropolis, however they repeatedly do it each time my identify is talked about, however, you recognize, it’s full circle like I used to be explaining earlier.
SLAM: On that word, Kat, as a filmmaker did you’re feeling a way of accountability in telling not solely Steve’s story, however the complete historical past of the franchise? How do you assume Vancouver Grizzlies followers will react to this movie?
KJ: For the previous 4 years, [I] have simply been engaged on this movie nonstop. And so, clearly, there’s the nervousness that comes with sharing your work, particularly when it’s such a deeply private story. We shared the movie with a couple of die exhausting Grizzlie followers I do know and the response, particularly after they’d [watched] Steve’s story on display, it’s been overwhelmingly optimistic, and everybody has simply been like, Yeah, [I] can’t hate on Steve anymore, Kat. So, that’s been actually nice and I wished to ensure that we did some check screenings with a couple of Grizzlies followers.
I believe it gained’t take loads for [people’s] tune to alter. I believe as quickly as you watch the movie, you see Steve in a distinct gentle and that gentle is simply as a human being. And I believe earlier than within the ‘90s, we were just seeing him as an athlete. But of course, these athletes and these people who worked on these teams are people. They’re human, too, and I believe that’s one of many issues that I’d love for folks to return away with after watching this movie.
SLAM: We gained’t spoil what occurs within the movie, however there’s positively a fairly unimaginable second of group and connection all through. Kat, as a longtime Vancouver Grizzlies fan, are you rocking with this yr’s Memphis squad in any respect? Or are you strictly loyal to Vancouver?
KJ: I’m grateful for the friendships that this movie has led to with Steve and with the followers that I met once I was in Memphis. The concept of cheering for Memphis earlier than this movie was identical to a straight-up exhausting cross. Like, heck no. But now, you recognize, I’ve come to appreciate that the Grizzlies, they’re as a lot Memphis’ workforce as Vancouver’s workforce. They’ve been in Memphis for 20 years. That’s over double the time that we had them right here in Vancouver.
I believe one of many messages that I hope that followers get after watching this movie is that it’s not like an us versus them mentality. Antonio Braxton Jr. stated it completely within the interview, Why can’t we share the workforce? Why does this have to be Memphis versus Vancouver? So, I believe Vancouver followers needs to be proud that the Grizzlies are nonetheless alive right this moment they usually’re doing properly in Memphis and we had a hand in that. We are part of that historical past as properly.