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VOL. 130 | NO. 128 | Thursday, July 2, 2015
Don Wade

Don Wade

Marc Gasol of Memphis Is Already Right at Home

By Don Wade

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He appreciates a fine wine, but at least symbolically does so with a dab of barbecue on his chin.

He attended Lausanne High School while his big brother was both amazing and frustrating Grizzlies fans. And now we hear from Zach Randolph, via Craig Brewer’s best film to date, “Marc Gasol of Memphis,” that he was listening to Three 6 Mafia all along.

Truth is, Marc Gasol even looks right in those Elvis Presley T-shirts that he favors.

“Barcelona-born, Memphis-made,” says Brewer’s promotional/celebratory video of Gasol that implicitly screams for the All-Pro center to not just re-sign with the Grizzlies, but for a long-term deal that keeps Memphians off the ledge and the team in pursuit of a championship.

In fact, as I write this on Wednesday morning, July 1 – early holiday deadlines and all that – the signs are encouraging. Tuesday’s report on ESPN.com stated in about the strongest language possible that Gasol was going to talk to only Grizzlies officials in Spain. A deal is believed to be imminent.

Now the report left open the possibility Gasol might sign short-term – a year with an opt-out, for example – but also said it was possible he could sign a long-term max deal just a little shy of $110 million. Even if Gasol signs a short-term contract, it could set up a long-term deal here next year; under the NBA’s complex rules, the Grizzlies can pay Gasol more over the long haul than any other team can.

That’s good. Also, Three 6 Mafia isn’t from San Antonio. That has to be good, too, right?

Look, I don’t pretend to know what is exactly in Marc Gasol’s mind, and anyone outside of his very tight inner circle that claims to know is fooling you and themselves. But there are a few things I do know:

For as close as Marc and Pau are, they also are quite different. Marc has said this himself. And perhaps the most reassuring comments throughout this whole process came a while back when Marc gave an interview to a Spanish radio station.

Said Marc Gasol of Memphis, when pressed about the allure of big markets such as Chicago (Pau’s NBA home now), New York and Los Angeles: “The city is not so important like it was in Pau’s case. My brother had other needs. People with (children) know how this works. I don’t have time to go to the opera, or to the theater.

“New York is nice, but it was very cold during the All-Star Game. San Antonio, L.A., Atlanta … there’s good things everywhere.”

And then came the kicker, the words that always have struck me as what all Grizzlies fans will remember if this goes like we want it to go: “I have a simple life: at home, the arena, the supermarket.

”Memphis is quiet. In Fort Yukon, Alaska, I would also be happy.”

Gasol is 30 years old, and in some ways he is 30 going on 50. He does not have time for nonsense. “Grit and Grind” fits him even more as a mentality than as a style of play.

“He wants to make everybody better,” point guard Mike Conley, a free agent after next season, says in Brewer’s video. “I know he makes me better.”

For Gasol to be happy on the court, his team – be it the Grizzlies or the Spanish National Team – can’t just stumble to a victory getting away with sloppy or selfish play.

“Winning a title is important, but how you win it is more important,” Gasol said in May after the Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors. “The time you put in, everybody believing in the right thing, everybody’s effort, the culture you create with that. It goes beyond just winning.”

So in the world of Marc Gasol of Memphis, all championships are not created equal. Winning here would mean more than winning in New York, Chicago, L.A. (Pau) or even San Antonio.

Winning one here would be a victory for all – for you, for Memphis, for Elvis, for Three 6 Mafia, and yes, even for the good folks in Fort Yukon, Alaska.

Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. Listen to Wade on “Middays with Greg & Eli” every Tuesday at noon on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM.

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