By Dionysis Aravantinos / firstname.lastname@example.org
Led by Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies had a horrible year in the Western Conference. They finished with a 22-60 record, good enough for the 14th spot in the wild West. According to the Spanish international, everything went wrong since the first couple of months: “Everything started with the injury of Mike Conley. From there, we lost some games, and things did not work. A change of philosophy and not just of a coach was needed. The team was held back. The only way to improve the talent of young players is to make a difference through the NBA Draft since in free agency we were at the limit (salary cap). However, several goals in the season were not linked with mine.”
Many fans criticized the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, throughout the season, claiming that he pressured Memphis’ front-office to fire head coach David Fizdale. As Gasol says, the team believes that he (Gasol) is part of the solution and not the problem: “My conflict is between my desire to win and my loyalty to Memphis. Memphis believes that I am part of the solution, not the problem. It was part of a learning experience. When looking for a change, you need to find the cause. It occurred in a way that maybe was not the desired one. Thinking about it now, I would have acted differently, but I remain calm. In the end, a business of so many millions of dollars is not decided by one player. The relationship between a player and a coach was not the best in the world… you are right”, he said.
“We came to losing eight games in a row. They fired him after a game in which I didn’t play in the last quarter. I ended with a sensation that I didn’t like and that I wanted to turn it over. Obviously, they focus on you. But it is a situation that you have to live and stay calm with. I wasn’t playing at a good level either. I was saying to myself, ‘Damn, I cant go through this.’ That was what worried me the most, above public opinion.”
LeBron James, who was also coached by David Fizdale, criticized Marc Gasol, but according to Gasol, the two have talked. “I talked with LeBron. He has also been criticized for the same reason. There are many newspapers to fill. Fizdale is a recognized coach, and he has a lot of attention from the media. I should have solved my relationship with him before, but I don’t blame myself for his firing. My consciousness is clean.”
Gasol, also talked about the reports that have David Fizdale questioning the players if they think they could be champions and Marc stating that they can’t be champions without a leader. “It was not like that. Far from it. Respecting the conversations in the locker rooms is always critical. Understand how to keep quiet and let things happen. It is important to keep one’s principles firm and always to put them over everything. I will not go out and say what happened, for these exact reasons.”
Memphis believes in Gasol, his talent, and experience. According to the 33-year old defensive stopper, he is fortunate: “I’m lucky to have a very good relationship with the owner. We are honest with each other, very sincere. We speak the same language, in that regard. We know each other very well, and we have a close relationship.”
Finally, Gasol talked about Luka Doncic and his first upcoming year in the NBA: “He knows how to play the game of basketball, he likes working a lot, and Dallas is a franchise in which he will have the resources he wants to improve. Dallas has the right basketball culture and good players.”
For more NBA news, click here!