No. 1: Memphis Grizzlies

2013 Ultimate Standings

Updated: September 23, 2013, 12:15 PM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 5
Title track: 54
Ownership: 30
Coaching: (T) 14
Players: 2
Fan relations: 8
Affordability: 2
Stadium experience: 7
Bang for the buck: 2

Shocked to see a team at No. 1 that hasn't won a championship, has a new owner, CEO and coach and didn't even finish first in any of the categories we rank? Don't be. At a time when fans are looking for a direct return on their investment, the Grizzlies just won 56 games and made the Western Conference finals with ticket prices averaging only $29.49, second cheapest in the NBA. Memphis fans identify with the grit of their hardworking players and love the FedExForum experience. And new owner Robert Pera, the 35-year-old billionaire founder of Ubiquiti Networks, has pledged to keep the team in Memphis and accessible to local fans while he expands the Grizzlies' reach -- and revenues -- across the Mid-South. The result is an across-the-board triumph: The Grizzlies ranked among the top 10 teams in 13 of the 25 areas in which we polled fans. They are our first-place franchise, and even better for Grizz fans, the best is probably yet to come.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.


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