In difficult moments, the great players emerge. It is what differentiates them from the normal ones, those capable of producing but whom no one has touched with a wand so that, in important moments, they do the work of leader that everyone demands of them. There, in that large denomination, there is Marc Gasol, a basketball star, a man who has been in the NBA for 13 seasons and is one of the most respected men in the best league in the world. Perhaps his level, slightly diluted since that magical 2019 in which he played more than 100 games and conquered the ring and the World Cup, has caused us to forget the career of a legendary player: Best Defensor in 2013, Best Quintet in 2015, three times All Star, eternal reference of the Grizzlies and reverentially respected both in the United States and in Europe, where he has a huge track record, enhanced by being part of the best generation that the Spanish National Team has had in its history.
Marc is an atypical player, lover of the intangible, with prejudices regarding the great statistical excesses but with fundamentals that make any coach of the New and Old Continent fall in love. He has never gone above 20 points per game on average, or 10 since leaving the Grizzlies.. Nor has he ever tried more than 15.7 shots, his top (2016-17), nor has he exceeded 10 rebounds on average despite being a 2.11 center. And, with all that, he has managed to make a name for himself and contribute in those things that the coaches teach their base players, virtues that multiply their value within winning teams that need members such as Spaniards in their squad, able to promote the circulation of the ball, see everything from the high post, shoot if necessary and contribute in defense with intimidation, claw, a brutal one against one and extraordinary collective leadership.
Maybe, just maybe, the fact of being so respected has caused Marc not to accept his new situation. This was demonstrated after the Lakers victory against Kings, the last that the Angelenos had achieved before last morning, against the Raptors. The empowerment of the player allowed the Catalan to speak loud and clear about the discomfort he feels when being relegated to the substitution in favor of Andre Drummond, the new signing of Frank Vogel’s men. Marc has started 959 of the 975 games he has played in the NBA, including regular season and playoffs. And he has never been in a similar situation, his qualities being incredibly valued even when his statistics suffered in Toronto. Of course, as a great player that he is, Marc has decided that the easiest way is not anger, and that once he has shown himself, he has to do what he has always done: work. And he has gone from being the center of attention for his complaints after the duel in Sacramento, to be for being in his best sporting moment of the season.
The leader of a team that resists
“He is one of our best players“They were the words of Frank Vogel after the Lakers victory against the Raptors, one in which Marc has set a formidable performance that has changed the narrative of his coach, who no longer closes in the band to continue using him as a starter whenever necessary and has reiterated his intention to play with the Spaniard and Montrezl Harrell at the same time. Marc finished the game with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks in his first game against the Raptors since he left the Canadian franchise in 2019. In the first quarter, in which the Lakers have broken the game (28-40), the center was at 9 + 6 + 3, with 4 of 5 in field goals, favoring a circulation of the ball that the Lakers have developed to the maximum in this game and being the leader of a team that, Since LeBron’s injury he is already silly, going 4-5 and has won against the rivals he has had to win, falling to those who are theoretically superior to Angelenos while orphans of their stars.
In addition to Marc, there have been six other Lakers players who have exceeded ten points, in an incredible collective exercise. Talen Horton-Tucker has reached 17 points as the top scorer and the Angelenos have recovered to the expulsion of Harrell in the first quarter after a tangana with Gary Trent Jr, Aaron Baynes and company. Pascal Siakam, poorly shot and very supported from the personnel, scored 27 insufficient points for the Raptors, who slow down their gradual ascent and they are two victories behind the Bulls in the last place that gives access to the play-in. And the Lakers resist the pull (32-19, fifth in the Western Conference) and add a victory that, like any other, is vitally important to hold until LeBron and Anthony Davis return to team dynamics. And to avoid a fall that could lead to a play-in (the Mavs, seventh, are three games away) they do not want to play. The Lakers keep adding. And Marc emerges when he is most needed. It could not be otherwise. After all, we are talking about a great player.