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Lionel Hollins says things that people in Memphis may not appreciate

Lionel Hollins may have just barbecued his bridges with Memphis. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Lionel Hollins has been coach of the Grizzlies three times, including twice since the team moved to Memphis (he was an interim coach in Vancouver). His most recent stint coaching Memphis lasted from 2009 through the 2012-13 season. There may not be a fourth time.

Hollins was recently hired as coach of the Nets, and in an interview on the team’s Web site, he said some things that just might leave many Memphians miffed.

Hollins was asked by interviewer Lenn Robbins about coming to New York, and the coach chuckled while mentioning how he had visited the city many times previously but found it “surreal” to now be living there.

“Especially after being 12 years in Memphis,” Hollins said, smiling. “Memphis is like, to compare it to New York, you know, it’s like back in the Stone Age, you know, when you didn’t have electricity and stuff. But, you know … and that’s not a knock on Memphis as much as it’s just a contrast in how developed and how unbelievably electric New York is versus Memphis.

“People are laid back, you know, they move slow, they talk slow, and they drag their words out, and here everybody talks so fast and usually you have to listen real hard and ask them to say that they said again.”

Well, good thing Hollins clarified that his comments don’t constitute a “knock on Memphis,” or folks there might be getting upset. In fairness, the new Nets coach was clearly trying to emphasize, in what he felt was a lighthearted way, how excited he was about his new gig.

He surely didn’t mean to deliberately trash Memphis. And perhaps, if he had just stuck to the “they talk slow” material, the moment may not have amounted to anything.

But the “Stone Age” line can’t possibly go over well. And the other stuff may not, either.

By now, Hollins has probably realized that news is among the things that travel particularly fast in New York. Ironically, earlier in the interview, he told Robbins, “I’m a firm believer that success is about people, success is about relationships.” Inadvertently or not, Hollins may have just taken a blowtorch to his relationship with the Memphis community.

Also, bad job by the Nets for posting this interview on their Web site, and apparently not giving too much thought to editing certain portions of it out.