Sometimes there are players and personnel that do not receive the full respect they deserve on a national scale. Maybe their athletic accomplishments are not quite on par with those who are enshrined in Springfield. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t had a profound impact on a certain team that has a home along the banks of the Mississippi River. These men may not have meant enough to some; but to us, they are irreplaceable. They have helped to form the franchise that has brought this city together through the ups and downs and played a large part in the unity we are still working towards. These men are members of the Memphis Grizzlies Hall of Fame.
In this series, the Brofessor will highlight those individuals worthy of induction into the fictional (maybe real one day) Memphis Grizzlies Hall of Fame. The inductees have been selected with the input of hundreds of fans through various forms of social media.
Pau Gasol 2001-2008
In 2001, the Grizzlies made some daunting moves. The first was to uproot the franchise from Vancouver and move it to Memphis. The second was to trade away their current franchise icon, Shareef Abdur-Rahim in his prime, in hopes of starting fresh and building a franchise off of youth.
The Grizzlies made a draft night deal to acquire the man who was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Hawks, Pau Gasol. In this transaction, the Grizzlies also acquired key players Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight. This trade brought three strong Grizzlies Hall of Fame candidates to the Bluff City and marked a clear transition point in the Grizzlies franchise. This trade was significant for multiple reasons. In addition to sending away Abdur-Rahim, Memphis was taking a chance on Pau as the highest drafted European player up to that point in time according to Sports Illustrated.
Pau made his debut with the fledgling Memphis franchise on November 1st, 2001. He remained a Grizz until he was traded to the LA Lakers on February 1st, 2008. During his tenure with the team, Gasol played in 476 regular season games and 12 playoff games that occurred from 2004-2007. Unfortunately, Pau was not around to experience the first franchise playoff victory, but some of his fellow Grizzlies Hall of Famers played integral roles in those matchups.
Over the course of the 6 full seasons he played for Memphis, Pau led the team in scoring and blocks every single year. He also led his squads in rebounds every year but his rookie season and the 2004-2005 campaign, both times dethroned by fan favorite Lorenzen Wright.
The Grizzlies have now been in Memphis for 17 full season. With his 6+ years of service in Memphis, Pau sits in the top five in minutes played, field goals, points, blocks per game, and rebounds for the franchise. He is third in Win Shares for Memphis with 53.8, behind his younger brother, Marc, and Mike Conley. Though Pau was thought of by many as being a “soft” player, his nose for positioning and extreme wingspan helped him to be the most prolific shot blocker in Grizzlies history.
His first season in the NBA, Gasol made an impact by earning Rookie of the Year honors over guys like Joe Johnson, Shane Battier, and Tyson Chandler. Pau’s best personal season occurred during the 2005-’06 season when he made his first All-Star appearance. For that season, Pau averaged 20.4p/8.9r/4.6a in 80 games, playing on average 39 minutes per game.
Pau Gasol was a BEAST in Memphis his seven years for the Grizzlies. He averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game. And he was serving up facials! #NBA #Grizzlies pic.twitter.com/lolFjFJ6sc
— Unfiltered Access (@UnfilteredAXS) July 6, 2018
For his career in Memphis, Gasol earned marks of 18.8p/8.6r/3.1a/1.8b. Since leaving the Grizzlies, Pau has continued to be an impact player in the league with his selection to 5 additional All-Star games. He has also demonstrated adaptability by learning to play wing man to Kobe Bryant and earning a pair of titles with Los Angeles. Pau has since spent time in Chicago and is now with San Antonio, continuing to thrive in Gregg Popovich’s system.
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