Steve Francis and Kat Jayme on the ‘Grizzlie Reality’

NBA All-Star Steve Francis had put the previous—what occurred his rookie 12 months after being drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies—behind him fully 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 taking part in 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’s, till James boldly traveled all the best way to a signing occasion in Houston simply to satisfy him and ask if he could possibly be part of the movie. That mission would later change into, The Grizzlie Reality, which is now premiering on the Toronto Movie Pageant. 

Jayme didn’t come empty handed, although. She’d introduced alongside a large poster of an animation of Francis on draft day sporting his Houston Rockets jersey with the Vancouver Grizzlies emblem within the background. The gesture was sufficient to impress the previous No. 1 decide. 

“For anyone to return to Houston, Toyota Middle, the place my face is planted all all through the [arena], figuring out how individuals checked out me in Vancouver, at that time, I used to be shocked,” Francis says of assembly Jayme for the primary time. He later provides: “I might have by no means considered coming [to Vancouver] if I wouldn’t have [met] Kat, however, , individuals have completely different results on individuals and the best way that she got here [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 palms, and was pacing backwards and forwards outdoors of the world whereas practising how she was going to introduce herself, not to mention persuade him to be part of the movie. “Steve is a part of the Vancouver Grizzlies’ historical past. And so, that was type of my pitch to him, like, You might be part of this story. I’m making this movie [and] I’d love so that you can be part of it as a result of we have to speak about what occurred. I might love so that you can have your individual voice in it as a result of persons are gonna be speaking about you.”

The pitch, and Jayme’s sincerity, labored. Not simply Francis, but in addition 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 study extra about what went into filming The Grizzlie Reality, and the affect 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 interested by making this movie? 

KAT JAYME: After I was in college, I went to movie college, and I believe, , I used to be so into 30 for 30s and I used to be similar to, I’ve the proper story—the story of the Vancouver Grizzlies. I believe each filmmaker has that one story of their profession that they wish 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 images 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 appropriate story for me to inform.

SLAM: That’s superb, and for you, Steve, what was it prefer to have somebody inform your story? Had been 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 type of felt a little bit relieving to have the ability to speak to anyone 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 till most likely this movie.  I nonetheless get individuals from Vancouver that’ll say, “What are you doing right here? We don’t such as you.” However, I’ve been by way of a lot in order that doesn’t imply something to me.

KJ: I really feel like that’s gonna change after individuals watch the movie.

SLAM: Steve, how did you start to course of all the pieces and the adversity you needed to take care of and nonetheless go on the market on the courtroom each night time?

SF: For those who 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 photographs right here and there, I couldn’t take photographs on the entire metropolis, however they repeatedly do it each time my title is talked about, however, , it’s full circle like I used to be explaining earlier.

SLAM: On that observe, Kat, as a filmmaker did you’re feeling a way of accountability in telling not solely Steve’s story, however the whole 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 number 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 make it possible for we did some take a look at screenings with a number of Grizzlies followers. 

I believe it received’t take loads for [people’s] tune to vary. I believe as quickly as you watch the movie, you see Steve in a special mild and that mild is simply as a human being. And I believe earlier than within the ‘90s, we had been simply seeing him as an athlete. However after all, these athletes and these individuals who labored on these groups are individuals. They’re human, too, and I believe that’s one of many issues that I’d love for individuals to return away with after watching this movie.

SLAM: We received’t spoil what occurs within the movie, however there’s undoubtedly a fairly unbelievable second of neighborhood and connection all through. Kat, as a longtime Vancouver Grizzlies fan, are you rocking with this 12 months’s Memphis squad in any respect? Or are you strictly loyal to Vancouver?

KJ: I’m grateful for the friendships that this movie has caused 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 similar to a straight-up exhausting move. Like, heck no. However now, , I’ve come to comprehend 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 should be Memphis versus Vancouver? So, I believe Vancouver followers must be proud that the Grizzlies are nonetheless alive right this moment and so they’re doing properly in Memphis and we had a hand in that. We’re part of that historical past as properly.