A Chat with Marc Gasol

Marc GasolPrior to L.A.’s Friday night win over the Memphis Grizzlies, we spent a few moments with the younger half of what could end up being the most potent brother combination in NBA history (really … check the numbers).

Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies center and younger hermano of L.A.’s own Spaniard, told us about his close relationship with Pau, what it’s like playing against him and more:

MT: You’re averaging 17.6 points on 60 percent shooting along with 12.6 boards per game, good for fourth in the NBA. Anything in particular that helped you make such a leap from your rookie year?
Marc: Just trying to get better every day, pretty much. I’ve started strong, but it doesn’t really matter when your team is 1-4. We’re trying to win games, not just have me get better.

MT: Your brother Pau is constantly talking about you and obviously cares a great deal about your development. How would you describe your relationship?
Marc: We’re very close. We come from a small family, and we have always been very close just like we are with our little brother (Adria), our parents and our grandparents. We hang out all the time together and talk all the time on the phone, pretty much every day.

MT: Pau has told us before how much of an impact the 1992 Olympics had on him in terms of playing basketball as a youth, but you’re five years younger than Pau (Marc was born in 1985, Pau 1980).
Marc: I started playing when I was young, about six years old, because my parents played and Pau played and many of my classmates played. I always played with older kids and had a lot of fun.

55461777MT: Pau is one of the best players in the world. Some would say top 15 or 20, I think top 10 after his defensive improvements last season. Did you realize how good he could be growing up?
Marc: He achieved a lot of things that you didn’t think he would very fast. I think every time he had a challenge, he overcame it, and he plays above everybody’s expectations. He has no limit, and it’s something that we can not take for granted. He’s a winner, a competitor, and a great example for a lot of people.

MT: Do you talk to Pau about his hamstring?
Marc: He’s getting better, it’s just a muscle injury. You don’t want to carry that type of injury all season, you want to be ready to go, so the Lakers of course need him but they have a very deep bench.

MT: You won’t get to do it tonight, but what is it like playing against your brother?
Marc: On the court you don’t have any friends. You are trying to win. You’re trying to help your team, and that’s all that really matters. It doesn’t matter how many points you get or anything like that. I try and play my game against him and try to get him to be less effective, but he is a very effective player that always shoots a very high percentage. He knocks down the outside shot, can drive past you going to the basket, can post you up with his back to the basket … he has so many moves that you can’t just scout him. You have to try and be very physical.

MT: Did you mimic any of his moves growing up?
Marc: Yes of course. He is one of the most skilled players that plays close to the basket so of course you want to learn some moves that he does, but you have to make your own adjustments because you have a different body, a different way to play. I look at him and I also look at Tim Duncan or any other big names around the NBA, or from all-time.

MT: Can you give us an idea of what it’s like playing with Pau on the Spanish National Team, which won the European Championships for the first time last summer?
Marc: It’s easy to play with Pau. He’s obviously our leader, and he has been for so many years that we’re all very proud and happy to be on his team. It was tough for me because I was often on the bench, but anything to help our team win. He plays the five all the time … In Europe there isn’t much space in there without the defensive three second rule, so everybody sits in (the lane). It’s different.

MT: How is it going back to Spain with the growth of basketball that you and especially Pau have helped inspire?
Marc: That’s thanks to Pau. I think he made this sport very big (back home). He broke so many borders around Spain and Europe. Everyone back home is very proud of Pau.