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One Thousand Words To Keep Marc Gasol In Memphis

A letter for Marc Gasol and his importance to Memphis, TN.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hey Marc,

So, you're at a pretty big crossroads here. If you haven't already, you're about to make enough money to ensure the financial stability of your lineage for decades, if not centuries, to come. That's going to happen no matter where you choose to play basketball. There will be certain scenarios where you'd make a little more than others - oh, by the way, Memphis would be able to give you the most - but I know that you're a simple man and that there's a lot more revolving around this decision than the amount of cash you're making.

You're a father now, and you want to give your child the best life you possibly can. I know that you know what Memphis has to offer in that regard. I don't imagine there's a city in this hemisphere that you know better than Memphis, TN. And unless the NBA expands to add a franchise in Spain, I don't see how there could be a more comfortable NBA home for you at this point in your life.

But I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on with your family. It's none of my business. What I do know, however, is the heart of the city of Memphis and how much you mean to it. And if I got the chance to read this letter to you in person, this would be the part where I'd likely start uncontrollably crying if I hadn't already up to this point.

Marc...you can't leave us, man. You're so important to this city, and this goes way beyond your basketball abilities and what they mean to the Grizzlies. Yes, the team would be pretty screwed if you left to go to elsewhere, but it's a professional basketball franchise - it will find a way to move on and function as a basketball team.

However, I don't think that this community of Memphis could move on in the same way. It would hurt...deeply. And I'm not going to lie. It would feel like betrayal, a betrayal from our brother. The heartache that would accompany your departure would be so immense that I don't know if, personally speaking, I could write about the Grizzlies for a couple of weeks afterwards. It would be so incredibly draining to know that I'd no longer be watching you in a Grizzlies uniform, to know that I'd never randomly run into you at Whole Foods, or have a chance to high five you after the Grizzlies win a title.

But at the core, the real reason it would hurt is because you would have chosen another city over us - us, Memphis, your adopted home.

You've seen the growth and progress this town has made in the past decade, and especially in the past 5 years, as our passion for the Grizzlies has revitalized parts of the city that were cast off and derelict.

You are that passion, Marc. You embody all of the pride we feel for this team because you've been around to see its entire evolution. You remember the Pyramid Arena and its decline. And now we've taken that empty shell and turned it into something fantastic that the city can enjoy in Six Flags over Bass Pro. I say that with a smirk, but I mean it in earnest. We've sat here for over a decade and stared at the big, steel eyesore. We wondered if it would ever become anything again, and now it's all abuzz amidst the resurgence of downtown.

That's what we do here in Memphis. We take what we're dealt and make the best out of it.

You are exactly that, Marc. This city was the laughing stock of the NBA when we traded your brother to the Lakers seven years ago. But now you've taken one of our lowest moments and turned it into one of our finest. You've been our first  and only Defensive Player of the Year, first All-Star starter, and All-NBA First Team.

With you and others like Mike Conley, we've taken a broken basketball franchise and done what only Memphians are capable of doing: we fixed it up and loved the hell out of it.

We know we've still got a long way to go as a city, but we've really started to gain our footing recently. Hell, you know this as much as anyone else here. When you moved to Memphis in 2001, the primary food options available in most of the city were the different forms of the unhealthiest versions of fast food. You fell into the temptations we had let seep into our culture. But we've changed, and you've changed with us. As you've shed pounds and rebuilt your body, we've started to adapt our tastes and put a focus on fresh food. We've lived the struggle together, and now we're starting to find our rhythm together.

As a lifelong Memphian, I can honestly tell you that I have never been prouder of anything in my city than I am of the Memphis Grizzlies as I sit here writing this letter on June 28th of 2015. Marc, you've been a huge part of creating that pride for myself and everyone else. If you never stepped foot in Shelby County again, I'd always be thankful for that.

I really hope (and I do believe) that Robert Pera and the Grizzlies are doing everything they can to show you they're committed to "playing basketball the right way". I hope you're involved in the process of molding the program into what you'd like it to be. I hope it's exactly what you want to be a part of for the next decade of your life.

I can't control the basketball part of it. In fact, I control virtually no part of this. I write this letter in the hopes that, if you do come across it and read it, that it might tug at your heartstrings. I know that's a pretty silly sentiment, but it's all I can do in the campaign of keeping you here. I'd be remiss if I didn't at least do this.

Please don't leave us while we're in mid-stride. Help us continue to reach for that Greatness I hear the Grizzlies talk about.

The journey wouldn't be the same without you.