FedEx can't deliver team name

Posted: May 23, 2001

FedEx Corp. reduced its multimillion-dollar role in efforts to attract the NBA to Memphis, Tenn., when the league rejected "Express" as a team name.

FedEx withdrew its offer to buy team naming rights "unless the NBA would like to reopen the discussion," company spokeswoman Shirley Clark said yesterday.

The Memphis-based company discussed the possibility of Memphis Express as a team name in its approximately $100 million offer.

FedEx still intends to seek naming rights to a new arena if the league grants permission for the Vancouver Grizzlies to relocate to Memphis.

J.R. "Pitt" Hyde, leader of the local NBA "pursuit team," said the FedEx decision on a team name will not hinder overall efforts to attract the Grizzlies.

"As a matter of long-standing policy we don't permit teams to be named after commercial entities. That's not territory we're prepared to enter," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

The NBA is expected to decide within weeks if Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley can move his franchise to Memphis. If not, the team would stay in Vancouver.

NBA commissioner David Stern and the league's relocation committee will tour Memphis next week. They also will meet with Heisley and members of the Memphis group that would buy up to 50 percent of the team.

Joel Litvin, the NBA's executive vice president of legal and business affairs, called the Pyramid an adequate temporary facility, but he indicated a new arena would need to be "a certainty or near-certainty" for the NBA governors to approve the move.

In other news:

SPURS: Anderson update

San Antonio guard Derek Anderson could return for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series Friday night in Los Angeles. The Spurs trail the Lakers, two games to none.

Anderson has not played since suffering a separated shoulder in Game 1 of the second round. He has been practicing and if all goes well in a workout today, he could be cleared to play.

"We know that Anderson is waiting in the wings to come back and play," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They'll be a little bit different team when he comes back." *

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