Marc Gasol’s remarkable career as a remarkable person

NBA FIBA World Cup Marc Gasol of Spain (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
NBA FIBA World Cup Marc Gasol of Spain (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images) /
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NBA Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Before the NBA

Born in Barcelona, Spain, Marc was 16 years old when he moved with his family to Memphis Tenessee because his older brother, Pau Gasol joined the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc was named Division 2’s Mr. Basketball after his senior year of high school where he averaged 26 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks per game.

On December 11, 2008, during his rookie year in the NBA, Lausanne Collegiate School where he played in high school retired his jersey. After high school in 2003, Gasol returned to his home country of Spain to begin his professional career and in 2008 was named the ACB Most Valuable Player.

Early years in the NBA

Ironically, Marc landing a spot with the Memphis Grizzles meant the displacement of this brother, Pau who had been playing in Memphis since he was drafted in 2001. In the 2007 draft, Marc Gasol was picked 48th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. Then in February 2008, his rights were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. The trade package included his brother.

I imagine it must have been a bittersweet moment for the family. On one hand, it’s not all the time that a family gets to have brothers playing basketball at the NBA level. But one brother having to move from his NBA home of six-plus seasons? That couldn’t have been an ideal situation.

In his first season in Memphis, Marc set a franchise record for a rookie with his 53 percent field goal shooting. A Memphis record previously held by his brother. Marc would also be named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

Coming into the 2010-11 season Gasol had a career average of 13.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. But the Memphis Grizzlies were a franchise that had never won a playoff game. In three consecutive playoff appearances between 2004 and 2006, the Grizzlies had been swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs, the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks.

That would all change in 2011. In the first round of the playoffs, the 8th seeded Grizzlies were up against the top seeded San Antonio Spurs. Not only would the Grizzlies win their first-ever playoff game against San Antonio, but they would also win their first-ever playoff series. They eliminated the Spurs in six games and Gasol’s performance during that series was a big part of the wins. He averaged 14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and 1.5 blocks.