The team was originally established as the Vancouver Grizzlies, an expansion team that joined the NBA for the 1995–96 season. After the 2000–01 season concluded, the Grizzlies moved to Memphis.
The Vancouver Grizzlies were a Canadian professional basketball team based in Vancouver, British Columbia. They were part of the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1995, along with the Toronto Raptors, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. Original proposals were for the team to be called the Vancouver Mounties, but objections from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police forced the team to find a new name. The nickname, "Grizzlies" was eventually selected, being the type of bear indigenous to British Columbia.The Grizzlies played their home games at General Motors (GM) Place for the entirety of their six seasons in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Grizzlies applied to the NBA to relocate to Memphis on March 26, 2001, which was granted on July 3. The team relocated following the 2000–01 season and were renamed the Memphis Grizzlies. This became the second professional sports team to be named Memphis Grizzlies. The original Memphis Grizzlies franchise played in the World Football League from 1974 to 1975. The NBA version of the Grizzlies became the first major professional sports team from the "big four" major leagues to permanently play its home games in Memphis, while leaving the Toronto Raptors as the only Canadian basketball team in the NBA. Memphis became the easternmost city in the Western Conference. In their first three seasons in Memphis, the Grizzlies played their home games at the Pyramid Arena.