Though he is donning a different uniform, Marc Gasol will represent his Memphis Grizzlies teammates of the past in the NBA Finals.
Following a Game 6 victory, which marked the Toronto Raptors’ defeat of the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, Gasol spent some time reflecting upon those from Grizz Nation who had immediately shown an outpour of support to him. This is the first time of Marc’s 11-season NBA career in which he has reached the NBA Finals stage.
During postgame questioning, as classy, professional, and humble as Big Spain has always been, Saturday was no different. According to James Herbert of CBS Sports, Marc Gasol had one particular monumental quote (directly below) in relation to his Memphis Grizzlies background.
The Core Four. The “Grit-‘N’-Grind” era of Grizzlies basketball. Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, Mike Conley, and Big Spain himself. Those were the glory days of NBA hoops in Memphis, Tennessee, and though that era is not too far removed from today’s date, it is something the town will cherish forever.
It runs deeper than just the Core Four, too. Marc was referencing several of the Grizzlies’ playoff rosters in the past that had a good run, but fell short of their championship-seeking goals. You think of Vince Carter and the three seasons he defied the odds of age while donning a Grizzly jersey.
Then there are guys who stepped up in times of crisis, such as Marreese Speights, who played the best basketball of his NBA career when the Memphis Grizzlies saw their leader and MVP in Zach Randolph go down with a significant injury in the 2011-12 season.
Plus, you cannot forget Rudy Gay, though his time in Memphis began to run out right as “Grit-‘N’-Grind” began to take flight. Rudy really began to lay the framework of relevance for the Grizzlies, which the Core Four carried to higher ground.
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While the Memphis Grizzlies are oftentimes overlooked — largely due to market size — their history is very unique. There are many great stories of triumph, while they have also been at the opposite end of the spectrum many times.
For now, when being on the topic of Marc Gasol and his first trip to the NBA Finals, this is absolutely another triumph for the Memphis Grizzlies and their fan base. The Front Office assisted his career by sending him to a contending squad as a form of saying “thanks.”
It was so well-deserved. Without Big Spain — or any other member of the Core Four, for that matter — there would not have been a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2013. There would not be 29 playoff victories in their history. Honestly, the Grizzlies may still be stuck on zero in that particular category.
Within the relationship between Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies, there is a special bond that will never be broken. Big Spain will forever be a Grizzly, regardless of the end result of this NBA Finals run by the Toronto Raptors. Remember the free-agency campaign the Grizzlies hosted for Marc in 2015? “Marc is Memphis.”