The morning after Pau Gasol put a series-clinching tip-in straight through the Thunder's heart during the 2010 playoffs, we here at sports department headquarters ran one of our more memorable headlines.
Thing is, that wasn't Gasol, folks.
Not even close.
Every year that the Thunder has been in the playoffs, it has faced one of the Brothers Gasol. The boys in blue went up against older brother Pau and the Lakers in 2010 and 2012, then younger brother Marc and the Grizzlies in 2011. Now comes another series against Marc and Memphis, starting Sunday at The Peake.
Much like those previous series, how the Thunder handles the big man with “GASOL” on the back of his jersey could well determine who wins this slugfest.
Marc Gasol is just that good.
“He's really skilled,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “He's versatile. He can play with his back to the basket. He's really good around the foul-line area, really good passer.”
And that's just on offense.
On defense, Gasol is among the best in the game. He was named NBA defensive player of the year this season, which is frankly more of a nod to his role as the anchor for the Grizzlies' stingy defense instead of his individual statistics. He only ranked 23rd in the league in rebounding (7.8 per game) and 12th in blocks (1.74), but his impact is clear.
When he wasn't on the floor, for example, the Grizzlies surrendered an additional 6.8 points per 100 possessions.
Gasol is a game changer.
Who'd have thought that would be the case when he first came into the league?
Marc was a second-round draft pick by the Lakers in 2007. The 48th overall pick.
Among the players taken ahead of him: Gabe Pruitt, Jared Jordan and Stephane Lasme.
Before Gasol ever played a game for the Lakers, they traded him along with Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks to Memphis for, oh irony of ironies, his skilled and talented brother and a second-round draft pick. At the time, everyone said it was a crazy trade. The Grizzlies were giving the Evil Empire one of the best big men in the game and weren't really getting anything in return.
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