It's an ADHD child finishing his first novel. It's a kiss at the end of a first date. It's the tears shed for a dramatic performance. It is the realization of potential. It is superiority. It is greatness. This isn't just a review of Marc Gasol's season, it's banner of his greatness.
There can be no overstatement as to how much value Marc Gasol had for the Grizzlies in the 2012-13 NBA season, but, in reality it is hard to actually show. His statistics do not shock you; they don't hold you in submission like the other great players of our generation. However, in a defensive driven team, Gasol's balanced play was the driving force behind a historic season for Memphis and the franchise's first ever Western Conference Finals appearance.
"Great men are not born great, they grow great." - Mario Puzo
In 2011, older brother, Pau, saw his superior shadow begin to fade as Marc's talent began getting recognition. Now, as the shade has completely dissipated after a stellar All-NBA season and Defensive Player of the Year honor, Marc starts not only a new Gasol era, but one that will usher in a new face of foreign-born stardom.
Marc's development is purely unique from any other player. General observers can see the style similarities in the Gasol brothers. Upright play, sweet shooting touch, excellent court vision. The differences though are what make Marc the more formidable player, and eventually, the greater player.
"Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else."- Judy Garland
Marc is his own man. He leads his teammates, barking orders like the commanding officer of an attacking platoon. He knows his limitations but does not wallow in them. He knows he is big and isn't afraid to use it to his advantage. For some reason, Russell Westbrook hates him...and I love that.
I don't think there has ever been a European player to meet his profile AND his skill set. Tony Parker is a clever fox. Dirk Nowitzki is a galloping horse. Pau is an elephant with a mouse in the room. But Marc...Marc is one of those monsters from Rampage (World Tour edition). Yet, in his brutality of force, he hones an intelligible skill, an ability that has led to one of the most balanced games in the league.
“A great man is always willing to be little.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
It cannot be known if Marc intended to develop an in-depth, all-around game, but if he did, he has succeeded beautifully. Countless times through the season I would note that Gasol had a "bad" game or was invisible, but looking at the stat sheet, he would nearly have a triple-double. Along with playing through a abdomen tear for half of the season, the depth of his impact is surprising and widespread. Name any statistical category and it would be a safe bet to wager that Marc Gasol was top-30 in the league during the 12-13 season. The man did it all.
|2012 - Marc Gasol||80||35.0||5.4||10.9||49.4||0.0||0.2||7.1||3.4||4.0||84.8||2.3||5.5||7.8||4.0||2.0||1.0||1.7||3.2||14.1|
No doubt exists inside my brain that Marc Gasol is a top-5, all-around player in the NBA. Name a weakness. Go ahead, name one. Anything you could potentially say, is rationalized through balance play. A lack of rebounds, you say? Offensively, he's getting back on defense. Defensively, he's helping perimeter defenders with the perfect hedge screen. Honestly, his one "flaw" is that he is too good of a teammate, passing away open looks to involve others in the flow of the game.
"Balanced" is not being used here to rationalize the lack of one "elite" facet of his game. Rather, Marc is elite at every aspect of the game and has learned how to use his abilities for the betterment of his team, allowing his teammates' strengths to be a guide. Zach Randolph is an elite rebounder; Marc focuses less on crashing the glass. Tony Allen is an elite perimeter defender; Marc shades more toward Tayshaun Prince, who's man is in the process of beating him on a backdoor cut. Marc is playing with the bench unit; he capitalizes on more open looks. Marc Gasol is not elite at one thing. He is elite at the thing the team needs most.
“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”- Coco Chanel
Like his European football counterparts, Marc has turned basketball into an art form; painting masterpieces through precision bounce passes; chiseling grand sculptures with tippy-toe jumpers. Through the simplest of rotations from a weak-side position and using his long body and quick feet to keep attacking guards out of the lane, Marc Gasol has mastered the medium known as NBA defense and he is ready for his final work: NBA greatness.
General observers can see his game coming to a pinnacle. Retaining his skills will not be hard, for they are all natural-born instincts. Soon, Marc will be known as the better of the Gasol brothers. He's stronger, craftier and more durable than Pau, and he will be the driving force behind Grizzlies runs of the future. Soon, he will be known as the greatest Grizzly to play the game. Memphis' young franchise needs it's first great hero, one ready to lead them to sustained contention. I can assure you that on the summation of Gasol's career, his number will hang in the rafters of FedEx Forum, heralded as the greatest to own the Grindhouse court.
His goals and escalation should not end there, though. A few weeks ago, Gasol stared his potential in the eye as Tim Duncan destroyed the Grizzlies front line. A beacon of fundamentals and endurance, Duncan has created his own place in history as the greatest all-around player of his generation, and maybe of all time. Gasol can be that generational player. He can be the new face of European basketball. He can be the best all-around international player of all time. Do you realize the greatness we are about to witness?
Marc Gasol is the undisputed leader of a Grizzlies team starting a perennial reign on the Western Conference. The ownership group has placed their confidence in his abilities, knowledge and leadership. He is the new general, ready to conquer the NBA landscape. Historically, rulers of lands have been given the title "Great." In similar fashion to Alexander in Greece, Peter in Russia and Alfred in England, Memphis has their very own conquering hero, Marcus the Great.
General Grizznosity: A+
Clutch Performance: AOverall Grade: A+