I’ve been in Memphis a little less than 24 hours and already about five people have come up to me to ask about the big showdown between the Gasol brothers tonight. Yesterday, as I was leaving the practice court at FedEx Forum, a man yelled out, `You tell that Paul Gasol I said `What’s up.’ ”
Yes, Paul Gasol.
Anyway, I’m not sure exactly the kind of reception Pau is going to get tonight. Since he asked for, and later took back, a trade during his last year here, it might not be kind. But having his younger brother Marc here and playing well might generate a few more kind sentiments.
I had a chance to meet Marc yesterday afternoon and like Pau he’s very polite and personable. I think because he’s four and half years younger than Pau, he’s been a bit immune to the pressure of following his big brother. If they were two or three years apart, it’d be different. But four and half years was just enough to ensure Marc had a chance to become his own person.
“It’s been like that forever so it doesn’t make a difference anymore,” Marc said, when asked about being compared to Pau. “To be compared to one of the best players in Spanish history, even if you come up a little short, it might not be that bad.
“I learned many things from Pau, I’ve seen more of his games than anyone, except my parents maybe.”
That said, they are two pretty different players. Pau is long and lanky, more of a finesse player. Marc is thick and strong. Here in Memphis, they have started calling him “The Tank.”
“We’re both winners, but I think everybody can accomplish it in their own way,” Marc said. “I always needed to play a different way because I had a different body than Pau. He was skinnier and I was thicker so I had to develop different skills.”
As much as Pau was happy to leave Memphis and move on to the Lakers last season, both brothers recognize it’s benefits for Marc. It’s quiet, the expectations are low, and with the Grizzlies young team, Marc will get a lot of minutes and space to develop.
“Memphis is a different city but I think the people here appreciate us a lot,” Marc said. “All they ask for is for us to play hard. They don’t ask for us to win 45 or 50 games every year, they just ask to go every night and compete and that’s what we do.”