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The Gasol Factor

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

What’s worse than an angry Spaniard? One who seeks revenge.

And after last year’s devastating injury and gut-wrenching first round loss to OKC, I’m pretty sure Marc Gasol will be searching for just that this season: revenge.

When Pau was traded, most doubted if Marc would have much success as a replacement. And while he’s now a one time All-Star and is one of the cornerstones of the Memphis franchise, he still doesn’t have a coveted championship ring.

The guy’s a 7'1" giant from overseas, but he’s made Memphis his home. Since coming here, Marc has always averaged more than 7 rebounds and 11 PPG. Plus, he received the Defensive Player of the Year honor in the historical 2013-14 run. When opponents come to the Grindhouse, they have to go through him.

And nobody messes with a hungry Spaniard.

Back when Spain won the World Cup in 2006, Marc got a taste of what it feels like to, well, win a championship.

And I believe that fuels him like a fire.

His brother Pau has enjoyed much success with his 2 NBA championships with the Lakers. Being younger, Marc is still in his prime. However, his best window will soon start to close as 30 is peeking around the corner, and Big Spain must be somewhat realizing that now is that time to seize his NBA career by the throat. Memphis can bring him a winning team and fans, but Marc must spur the Grizzlies to the championship (yeah, pun intended). First things first: get Gasol resigned when the time comes, but I’m going to focus on this season and the hoped seasons beyond.

(Here's Marc schooling his brother and giving the dramatic head shake)

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via i.minus.com

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have been seen as the up-and-coming duo of the Grizzlies for a few years, and now’s their time to shine. Though Mike is an excellent leader, Marc is ultimately the head. From first glance, one wouldn’t think so, but this seemingly gentle giant transforms when he’s on the basketball court. A smile is a rarity from him, and a laugh is even more so. He takes everything as serious as anyone and seems to blame a lot of the team’s shortcomings on himself.

It wasn’t Marc’s fault that he got injured early last season, but it was partially his fault in the Round 1 loss to OKC. The Grizzlies were leading 3-2, and they let it slip away. Plus, we all knew that Marc wasn’t his regular self this past season. While still a great defender, he wasn’t up to par with his DPOTY performance like the 2012-2013 season.

As Grizzlies fans, the healthy-looking Marc in this picture for the World Cup is incredibly comforting:

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via cdn0.vox-cdn.com

Despite the picture, I’m still anxious that Marc might get injured (maybe not to Paul George’s extent, but you get my drift). However, I just have to trust that Gasol is in top shape and that that won’t happen. I’ll be keeping an eye on his stats in the World Cup (as many in Grizz Nation will) and that might give a small clue of what to expect this season, in which I anticipate an All-Star version of Gasol and nothing less.

(Oh, and I'm also expecting more epic game-winners like this, too):

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via www.everyjoe.com

I do anticipate for Mike and Marc to gel even more together, and I expect to see them acting as leaders to the other players. I expect Marc to get fired up on regular occasion, and I demand the fans to be chanting "Big Spain!" on an even more regular basis. Also, I insist success, because Marc Gasol is on the team. And he wants the championship just as much as Lebron James or Tony Parker. He hungers to hold up that O’Brian Trophy in the Grindhouse. No, I didn’t interview him for these presumed desires. But I’ve watched him so much that I feel it’s something you develop as a fan. I mean, think about it. These players take up hours and hours of your weeks; you read about them and follow them on social media. It’s a little weird, if you think about it, but you should know them pretty well by now, even if you haven’t had a conversation with them in reality.

And I know that Marc Gasol will come back stronger than ever. The Grindhouse will be rumbling come November, and that will be because Big Spain will be grinding it out every game. The floorboards will tremble. The fans will be going nuts. Because we’re not betting against Marc Gasol. No, we’re not betting against an angry Spaniard. Yes, it’s August. Yes, the NBA seems far away. But keep your heads up. Trust Marc stays healthy and hope he does great in Spain, because he’s getting better the more he trains.

And I know we’ll have more moments like this:

Marc-gasol-dance1_medium

via usatthebiglead.files.wordpress.com

Maybe I’m too demanding. But with a player like Gasol, I can’t lower my expectations.

2012-13 was by far his best season statistically. Was that the best Gasol we'll see? Not by a long shot. This guy's got another level. He just has to tap into it. Last year, his health prevented him from doing so. This year, I hope that isn't an issue.

And while winning a championship is the ultimate goal, we as fans should be thankful for making the playoffs the past few years. Because that’s a special thing. It gives us hope. The whole city of Memphis shakes with excitement, because Memphis has a chance of winning a championship.

Take heart. Big Spain is here. And I’m sure not betting against him. Are you?