But Marc has become just as much of a pillar in Memphis.
He is one of the faces of the franchise. Along with Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, Gasol embodies this grit-and-grind style by which the Grizzlies have become known. He is hard nosed. He is workmanlike.
There's not much flash to his game. Marc had modest averages this season — 14.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during the regular season, though his points have jumped to 17.3 in the playoffs — but his all-around game is so good that some pundits have mused about whether he's the best center in the NBA. I'm not ready to go there just yet, but this is clearly Gasol's best season as a pro.
“We have to make sure that we're always around him and always in front of him and not allowing him to make easy decisions,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
That's because Memphis runs a lot of its offense through the big man.
“It's not a typical team,” Collison said. “A lot of these teams in the NBA now start their offense with the point guard and a pick and roll and try to get something out of it. (The Grizzlies are) different. They try to get him the ball and let him make plays for other guys.”
Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins will draw much of the responsibility of guarding Gasol. To think, Perk was originally brought in largely because of the other Gasol. The Thunder knew that the Western Conference playoffs went through Los Angeles, and they had to have a counter to the Lakers' twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Now, Perk will be tasked with containing not-so-little brother Marc.
No wonder Perk went for an extended film session after practice Saturday. He knows the challenge that's ahead.
Marc Gasol is one tough brother.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.