Marc Gasol is a pretty important player for the Memphis Grizzlies and his opinion holds a pretty big standing in the team's locker room.
Today, Gasol revealed how he started on this path to respect as a mere rookie from when he came to the NBA from Spain as a fresh faced 22-year old out of Akasvayu Girona where he was a 2nd round pick - 48th overall - in the 2007 draft.
Gasol described a story that was relayed by Ian Thomsen of NBA.com of how he managed to stop the Grizzlies trading teammate Mike Conley in his rookie year, when Conley was a second year player that had slightly under-performed. Fast forward 7 years later and Conley is an All-Star calibre guard and one of the most underrated point men in the NBA.
Conley to the Bucks
Conley was selected with a high draft pick in 2007, 4th overall out of Ohio State, and in just his second season in Memphis the team was considering trading him away. But Gasol wouldn’t have it, and used an unorthodox tactic to try to make sure his teammate would be sticking around.
Gasol decided to contact a Grizzlies beat writer and give an impromptu interview about how valuable Conley was to the Grizzlies.
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“I had no idea what I was doing,” Gasol spoke. “I said, ‘Write this down: We cannot trade Mike Conley. He is the one guy who actually cares about the team, that actually is trying to play the right way.’ Well, supposedly a rookie is not supposed to do that. So I got a call from the owner, I got a call from everybody. And rightfully so. Rightfully so."
“But I felt like I had to protect the one guy who I felt actually cared about winning and losing — because a lot of people say, ‘I want to win.’ But are you going to do the right things it takes to win? Do you want to win on your own terms, or do you want to win on the team’s terms?”
The Grizzlies must be thanking their lucky stars they listened to Gasol and didn;t let Conley go.
The Grizzlies have been to the playoffs for four consecutive seasons, and currently boast a 29-12 record that is good enough for 3rd spot in the hyper competitive Western Conference. That is in no small part thanks to the efforts of Gasol and Conley, who yet again fly under the radar in leading their team to success.