Marc Gasol and Memphis: the legend beyond ’33’

Marc Gasol and Memphis: the legend beyond ’33’

The binomial between Marc Gasol and Memphis Grizzlies will be forever recorded in the history of the NBA. The Tennessee franchise, in an emotional tribute at the FedEx Forum held last Saturday, April 6, He hung the legendary ’33’ of the Spaniard at the top of the paviliona number that will accompany Tony Allen’s ‘9’ and Zach Randolph’s ’50’, Marc’s eternal companions in his journey with the team.

The surname Gasol is of Catalan lineage, but since the beginning of the century it also has descendants in Memphis. Pau Gasol He was the first to arrive in the city back in 2001 and he did it with his entire family on board. Marc, the middle of the three brothers along with Adrià, went to Lausanne High School, where he graduated playing basketball and his life changed completely. New country, different culture and a language that acted as a barrier, but not even all these difficulties could prevent love from blossoming.

Marc and Pau, opposite destinies

Marc’s arrival to the Grizzlies was most curious and ‘familiar’. While he was sweeping ACB first with Barça and later in Girona, with which he was crowned MVP of the regular season in 2008, the Lakers selected him with the 48th pick in the 2007 Draft as a international future project. The center dominated in Spain and demonstrated different skills in his passing vision and back play, but there were doubts about his physicality. He was a mountain of 2’11 meters and more than 115 kilos capable of becoming lord and master of the paint, but NBA scouts did not see that he could transfer his game to the best league on the planet. They were wrong.

Marc and Pau, rivals for more than a decade in the NBA. / Agencies

Pau, the oldest in the house, became one of the best power forwards in the Grizzlies from 2001 to 2008. Rookie of the year and All-Star in one of the most losing franchises of the moment, the offices decided to make a change of heading on February 1, 2008: Memphis sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for a package that included, among rounds and role players, the rights to a certain Marc Gasol, his little brother and the one he had always trusted. The agreement infuriated all the local fans, who had lost their star overnight, but later they would realize the gift that had fallen to them from the sky. Pau didn’t do badly in hot California either: he won two championship rings (2009 and 2010) with his eternal friend and life partner Kobe Bryant.

A new culture in Memphis

Marc, for more than a decade, He represented the team’s values ​​and earned the nickname ‘Big Spain’ (something like ‘the great Spaniard’), a reference not only to his enormous physical power but also to his connection with the stands and the FedEx public, who saw in him another countryman who was only good at playing. about basketball. And how. His first years already warned of what was to come: appearance on the second ‘All-Rookie’ team in 2009 and 2nd in the voting for the most improved player of the year in 2010. These achievements were the prelude to a man who would completely change the idiosyncrasy of some Grizzlies that had only accumulated failures in the first decade of the century.

Marc Gasol poses with the 2013 NBA defender of the year award, beating Lebron James. /NBA

The one from Sant Boi elevated the Grizzlies to new horizons. Under his leadership, one of the most iconic teams in recent times was created. The Memphis Grizzlies of ‘Grit and Grind’, with the defense and a tireless competitive desire as a registered trademark. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Tony Allen were Marc’s battle companions who, first under the orders of Lionel Hollins and later Dave Joerger, turned Tennessee into the ‘dark horse’ of the Western Conference.

The Spurs of Duncan, Parker and Ginoboli, the Clippers of the ‘Lob City’ or the Thunder of Durant experienced firsthand what it was like to face the defensive framework of the ‘Grit and Grind’, capable of drying up the most powerful attacks of the NBA. Marc was the glue that held that web together. ‘Durantula’ even went so far as to describe that generation as a kind of dynasty: “I know the word dynasty is used when you win championships, but when you have a cohesive group for so long in the NBA especially, that has to be taken into consideration.”

Gasol tries to stop Kevin Durant, who a year later would win the NBA MVP. / Agencies

The Catalan began his journey in the NBA with a more defensive profile and even won the DPOY (Defender of the Year) award in 2013, but little by little he let his hair down until he became one of the most skilled centers of the 21st century as well. on an offensive level. Thanks to this evolution on the field, The Grizzlies managed to reach their peak in the league and they reached the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, between 2010 and 2017.

Putting Memphis on the map

The franchise was founded in 1995 under the name of Vancouver Grizzlies and their ‘newborn’ status had not allowed them to experience too many great nights first at the Pyramid Arena and later at the FedEx Forum, inaugurated in 2002. The 2012-2013 season A feat was achieved that has never been repeatedmake a place among the best four teams in the NBA and duel against the Spur dynasty in the Western Conference Finals. Memphis was swept 4-0 in the playoffs, but something had clicked in southwest Tennessee.

The concept of modern center is today very much installed in the NBA vocabulary. Nikola Jokic is the great representative of the new batch of ‘5’ who are much more than big players with the ability to block and rebound. Marc is considered as one of the pioneers, That’s right. He installed the archetype that all teams want in today’s basketball, a center who can shoot triples, dominate with his back to the basket and with a supernatural talent to distribute his team’s play. Marc passed the ball better than many outside players at the time, and he left us with highlights that will go down in history.

Marc Gasol with the NBA champion trophy in his hands. / Agencies

His departure from the city hurt, but time has proven both sides right. In 18-19 and with some Grizzlies who were looking for a reconstruction, Gasol knew that in Memphis he couldn’t win the ring and asked for a transfer to a ‘contender’. He landed in January 2019 in Kawhi and Lowry’s Raptors, where a few months later he would defeat the Warriors to become the new NBA champion.

Toronto finally won the long-awaited Larry O’Brien trophy for the first time in its history. Kawhi Leonard was the big star of that team; Mark the anchor. His role against Embiid in the Conference finals was key to reaching the big event, where they would overcome a Golden State team dented by injuries to Durant and Klay Thompson. The Grizzlies celebrated this title as if it were theirssomething that spoke very well of the impact that ‘Big Spain’ had had on the entity.

The most supportive Marc

Marc’s involvement in the city of Memphis has always gone far beyond the fields. As reflected in the recently released documentary ‘Marc Gasol: Memphis Made’, the Spaniard was involved in numerous charitable causes, especially in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where dozens of children were recovering from cancer. The NBA, through the ‘NBA Cares’ program, has been a league very committed to this type of issues, but for Gasol it was much more than just having a good time or bringing smiles to disadvantaged people. “Marc didn’t come just to perform, He stayed for hours and hours chatting, talking and laughing with us. You could tell that she made him happy to be with us,” says one of the Saint Jude patients who shared moments with Marc.

Memphis will forever be Marc Gasol’s second home, and his number will remain for eternity in the NBA Olympus. Only a select few can wear this honor in the best basketball league in the world. This was the story of a boy from Sant Boi who touched the sky and left his mark on an entire country.

2024-04-07 05:36:05
#Marc #Gasol #Memphis #legend

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