Marc Gasol is already immortal in Memphis | Basketball | Sports

No Memphis Grizzlies player will ever wear the number 33 again. That jersey now belongs forever to Marc Gasol, who played with it for 25,917 minutes over 769 games, more than anyone in the club’s history. The retirement of the number, the highest honor that NBA clubs give to their best players, elevates Marc Gasol to the status of immortal legend of the Grizzlies. His family members accompanied him at the jersey retirement ceremony, including Pau Gasol, his older brother, whose number 16 was retired by the Lakers last year. With this, the Gasols make history again: never have two brothers achieved this recognition.

Saturday night began inside the FedexForum, in downtown Memphis, with the children of the Lausanne school singing the national anthem. Marc arrived at that school at the age of 16 in 2001 as a teenager who did not speak English and used the language of basketball to communicate and make friends. Those friends helped him let loose with raps like those of Project Pat, the local star of the moment, who this Saturday acted as the narrator of the tribute video. Rappers wearing Gasol’s shirts have livened up the party.

The jersey retirement ceremony was held after an inconsequential game in which the Grizzlies were defeated by the Philadelphia 76ers (96-116). The Memphis team is sunk in the standings and nothing is at stake in the final stretch of the season. They miss other times.

When the time came for the tribute, Marc Gasol did not take the court alone. He has appeared on the scene alongside point guard Mike Conley, guard Tony Allen and power forward Zach Randolph (the only other player whose jersey has been retired in Memphis). With these four, the Grizzlies became a rocky, but special team. Marc has always maintained that individual recognitions do not make much sense in team sports and on the day of his tribute he has shown this. “The trust and loyalty we had in each other were key to what we achieved,” Gasol said.

The audience was delighted to remember the good old days and had four stars on stage for the price of one. Five, if you count Pau himself, with whom he started the ceremony and who was also a Grizzlies star and continues to be very loved in the city. A twist of fate caused the franchise to acquire Marc’s rights in the same operation in which he transferred Pau to the Lakers. Finally, it was the younger brother who achieved a full connection with Memphis.

Pau recognized this this Saturday: “I think his DNA connected very well with the identity of the city, a worker who gave everything for the team, competed in every game. That is the spirit of the city. And I think that having completed two years of high school here, he also connected more,” he said this Saturday. The documentary that the Grizzlies have produced to honor him is titled Marc Gasol: Memphis made. Born in Barcelona, ​​made in Memphis, held in the city.

After a talk between the team’s four former glories, Marc Gasol gave a three-minute thank-you speech accompanied by his wife and two children. “I have to apologize to my teammates and my coaches. Sorry, I’ve been a pain in the ass at times, but only because I cared a lot about this city, winning, and playing the right way. So thank you for putting up with me,” he began.

Marc recalled his identification with the city. He has come to his memorial a week in advance to reconnect with old places and old friends. This Saturday the entire family was celebrating one more milestone. “None of my dreams went through something like this,” Marc Gasol said this Friday in an appearance at the FedexForum. The withdrawal of the shirt, “more than about what was achieved, speaks about how it was achieved,” he added.

With Gasol, Conley, Randolph and Allen, the Grizzlies achieved a special identity with the stands by giving life to the grit and grind, the untranslatable motto that consisted of giving your all not only in every game, but in every play. That fighting spirit infected an entire city. “It was our only way to be really competitive with the other franchises. We couldn’t surpass them in talent, scoring or bench depth. It is not a translatable expression in Spanish, but it is a mentality of work, of great humility, of being constant every day, of not having breaks. We understood that we needed that, sometimes those games were not very pretty or very comfortable, but we felt competitive in those tight games where defense made the difference and we did quite well. Beyond the results or the playoffs, It fit very well with the mentality and feeling of a city and that was reflected for many years in the response of the people,” he answered this Friday to EL PAÍS.

From left to right, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley this Saturday, in Memphis, after Gasol’s jersey retirement ceremony.KAREN PULFER FOCHT (EFE)

After 10 and a half seasons, Marc Gasol is the franchise’s all-time leader in minutes played (25,917), games as a starter (762), field goals made (4,341), free throws made (2,701), defensive rebounds (4,624), total rebounds (5,952) and blocks (1,135). Additionally, he is second in team history in games played (769), points (11,684), assists (2,639), offensive rebounds (1,318), double-doubles (194) and triple-doubles (5) and third in steals ( 708). In terms of postseason games, it is first in minutes played, free throws taken, defensive rebounds and blocks, and second in games played, games started, points, rebounds, assists, field goals taken, offensive rebounds and total rebounds.

He was named the NBA’s best defensive player in the 2012-2013 season, becoming the first European-born player to receive the award. He was selected to the NBA’s best quintet in the 2014-2015 season, something that no other Grizzlies player has achieved. Additionally, he participated in three NBA All-Star games (2012, 2015 and 2017), a club record, and became the first player in Grizzlies history to be chosen as a starter. He achieved it in the 2015 All-Star Game and starred in the unforgettable opening jump at Madison Square Garden against his brother Pau, a starter on the West team. The Gasols are the only brothers in NBA history to have started in the same All-Star Game. Now they are also the only ones who share the retirement of their shirt.

Marc missed getting a championship ring with the Grizzlies, his soul team. When he won the NBA title in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors, he asked that the motto of his time in Memphis be engraved on his ring: “Grit and grind.” His former teammates felt the Spanish center’s triumph as their own and Gasol himself also considered it in some way a success for all of them, as he insisted in his acceptance speech: “When I was able to achieve the biggest goal for a player of basketball, which is winning an NBA ring, these three guys that meant so much to me along the way were there with me on the court.” This Saturday at 10:15 p.m. Memphis time, just as his shirt was raised, Marc closed the event with that war cry: “Grit and grind.”

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