Marc Gasol played a key part in defining Memphis Grizzlies basketball

Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

When you think of Memphis Grizzlies basketball, you think of a playstyle that is very unique to the team that wears Beale Street Blue. It can be traced back a bit earlier, but a team highlighted by Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol popularized the gritty playstyle.

Memphis played grit and grind basketball. If you didn’t see for yourself throughout the past decade, here’s what the Grizzlies were all about. In short, they played with heavy pressure on the defensive and played extremely physically on the offensive end. Their bigs were among the best in the league, while the guards were pesty on defense.

This is something that the Grizzlies have never truly let go of — last season’s team with Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Jonas Valanciunas played to a similar beat as their predecessors. The team led the NBA in steals and had dominant offense from their bigs — particularly from Valanciunas.

Heck, you could even say that these teams, which featured former Michigan State basketball player Zach Randolph, inspired the Grizzlies’ decision to pick up two former MSU bigs in recent draft classes. Those bigs are Jaren Jackson Jr., a prototypical modern NBA forward, and Xavier Tillman, a feisty, undersized defensive center.

The Memphis Grizzlies recently traded for Marc Gasol, giving his NBA career a storybook ending on Beale Street

In a likely effort to show respect for a Grizzlies legend, the Memphis front office brought Marc Gasol back to the team in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gasol was involved in a trade that netted the Grizzlies Gasol, cash, and a 2024 second-round pick in exchange for the draft rights to Wang Zhelin. Fans, players, and the front office were well aware that Gasol was never expected to play on Beale Street. Still, the Spanish center finishing his career with the Grizz was only fitting.

Gasol is one of the greatest Memphis Grizzlies players of all time. The big man posted impressive accolades of three NBA All-Star appearances, a First-Team All-NBA selection, and an NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. He could score in the low post and defend among the best players in the league, fitting the Memphis prototype to perfection.

The Grizzlies bought out Marc Gasol’s contract, allowing him to finish his NBA career and retire in Spain

On Wednesday, the Grizzlies’ trade with the Los Angeles Lakers official went through. This allowed Memphis to buy out Gasol’s contract in order to waive him.

While his career went in a full circle in the NBA, it will also do so on a broader scale. Gasol likely plans to finish his career in Spain, where it all began. Before joining the Memphis Grizzlies, the Spanish center played for FC Barcelona and CB Girona in his native country. He may return to one of those teams.

Gasol will forever go down as one of the players who helped build up a struggling franchise.