Marc Gasol reportedly leaving Raptors for FBC Barcelona

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Marc Gasol — AKA the rosé king AKA the father of Joel Embiid AKA Big Spain A— is reportedly on the verge of leaving the Toronto Raptors and the NBA and signing with FCB Barcelona in his hometown of Barcelona, Spain.

Although nothing is confirmed yet, the move has been speculated upon for some time given that Gasol is a free agent and, at 35 years of age, is coming off perhaps the most disappointing season of his career. Plus, given that the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed professional sports, especially in the United States where the virus is yet to be contained, the choice to play in Europe and keep his family in Barcelona makes a lot of sense.

If this is the end for Gasol the NBA player and Gasol the Raptor, let us remember him not through recency bias but for the remarkable man and the remarkable player he is.

Gasol’s NBA career spanned a total of 11 seasons where he averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists. Gasol will always be remembered as one of the best passing centers in NBA history, and watching him control the floor was a thing of beauty year after year:

Gasol should also be remembered as one of the most effective NBA centers to develop a three-point shot after not having one early in his career. 2016-17 was the first time Gasol consistently shot threes at a high volume and he never shot below 34 percent since, averaging 35.4 percent as a three-point shooter in his NBA Career.

Raptors fans will surely remember Gasol best for his elite defensive ability. Gasol won a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012-13, but even as his age took a toll on his athleticism, Gasol’s mind never wavered, helping the Raptors win a championship in his 10th season in the league by keeping All-Stars like Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo in check. A lot of Raptors fans questioned the Gasol trade when it first happened, acknowledging that his offensive game was less flashy than Jonas Valencunus’s, but once the playoffs started and Gasol began to lock down elite big men night after night, it became obvious that his value was not on the score sheet but in the space he rents for free inside the heads of players like Embiid and Antetokounmpo (sorry).

Also, Gasol became one of the most likable Raptors in his short time with the franchise, cementing his legacy off the court in his legendary championship parade performance:

Speaking of Gasol off the court, the man was a true humanitarian in his every action. He inspired a generation of young people — as well as some of his peers in the NBA — through his humanitarian work and general mench-ness. Gasol spent part of the 2018 summer working on boats and helping save refugees stranded at sea. You can read more about that here.

Dear Mr. Marc Gasol: you will be missed by the NBA community and Raptors fans forever. Take care. You deserve it.

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