One of the soap operas of the year finally ends. Marc Gasol returns home to the Bàsquet Girona de LEB Oro (2nd Division). The player was cut by the Lakers and the Grizzlies, which has allowed him to join the team where he is the President as well. This way, the Spanish center´s trajectory in the NBA has come to an end. A brilliant trajectory, but there have been some shadows too.
Memphis Grizzlies: from rookie to All-Star
Marc Gasol started his path in the NBA back in 2007. He was drafted by the Lakers in the 2nd round and he never actually played for the franchise from California. He was traded to the Grizzlies in 2008. We must point out as a curiosity that his sporting rights were sold to the Memphis a few months back and that deal allowed his brother Pau to sign for the Lakers.
His debut in the league took place on October 29th 2008 against the Houston Rockets. Moreover, he became the first Spanish player to play his first game as a starter. He ended 6th on the race for the Rookie of the Year Award on that season, which Derrick Rose won. He made himself a name at Memphis as time passed by, and he even obtained one of the highest salaries in the league.
He was part of the Western All-Star team in 2012 and he won the game. Next year he became the first Spanish to earn the Defensive Player of the Year Award above other candidates like LeBron James. Marc was able to reach the 2013 Conference Finals with Memphis, the only Finals in history that the franchise from Tennessee has ever played. They first beat the Clippers and then the Oklahoma City Thunder, but then they did not have any options against the San Antonio Spurs.
Marc Gasol is a historical leader at Memphis on rebounds, blocks, free throws and minutes played. only Mike Conley passes him on points, assists and games played. No doubt that Marc Gasol is one of the most important players in history for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Toronto Raptors: the most-awaited ring
Marc ended his time at Memphis in 2019 in order to join a candidate for the ring and Toronto Raptors was his destination. There they were able to make the most out of his defensive potential under the ring and against other big centers. They ended second on the Eastern Conference and beat the Orlando Magic in the first round, the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 in the semifinals and then took on the Giannis Antetokounmpo´s Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals where they won by 2-4.
They reached the NBA Finals and faced the Golden State Warriors, but Stephen Curry and company couldn´t do too much to stop the attacks by Marc Gasol under the ring and Toronto earned the title. Marc had accomplished his mission, he was finally an NBA Champions. That deserved a big celebration and Marc Gasol was the MVP of the party where he chugged a bottle of champagne in the bus, an image that will be everlasting.
Marc Gasol and the Raptors reached the Conference Semifinals in the “NBA Bubble” Playoffs the year after achieving the feat, but they lost to the Boston Celtics.
Los Angeles Lakers: more shadows than lights
Marc Gasol joined last year to the team that originally drafted him and to the current NBA Champions by then. There were high expectations on a very competitive roster led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the ring was the goal. However, Marc´s fitness decreased considerably and he played less minutes than what he thought.
The season started full of optimism, but injuries on several players came halfway and Marc Gasol had to overcome COVID. He was a sensitive absence for the Lakers and the performing he showed after recovering was below what we have seen before. The franchise signed another center, Drummond, which got Marc mad, as he was aware that he was losing importance in the team.
The center position was full for this season after the additions of DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard and Marc Gasol did not space in the team, which is why the Lakers decided to trade him to the Grizzlies so they could cut him and let him return to Spain.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Marc Gasol.