Even though he’s a Toronto Raptor, Marc Gasol is forever a Memphis Grizzly, and he let the world know that with his 2019 championship ring. It took some internet sleuthing, but the Reddit savants found the inscription Gasol chose for his piece of hardware. It reads “GRIT&GRIND”.
How do fans know this? If you look closely at the Raptors’ “Making of the Ring” video, you can see the list of all of the players’ choices. Patrick McCaw’s says “3X CHAMP,” Danny Green’s “2X CHAMP,” Fred VanVleet’s says “BET ON YOURSELF.”
He led them to seven straight postseasons appearances, including one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history when Memphis knocked off the top-seeded Spurs as the No. 8 seed in the opening round of the 2011 postseason.
Gasol was a three-time All-Star in that span, and he won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2013. Memphis basketball had an identity — the grit and grind Grizz. Taking over his brother Pau’s spot, Marc was the lockdown rim-protector, Zach Randolph was the low-block force, Tony Allen hounded wings, and Mike Conley carved up the paint as the lead guard. The Grizzlies were kings of scoring in the interior, swatting shots and out-working everyone. The dominance never culminated in a championship, though, and slowly the pieces disappeared and the window closed.
These were Marc’s golden years, and he didn’t want them to end. He wanted to stay in Memphis through a rebuild even when it no longer made sense for him to hang around. After winning a championship with the Raptors, he admitted it. “There have been few players that haven’t been traded over the years in the NBA,” Gasol said, per EuroHoops. “If it had been depended on me, I wouldn’t have been traded. I always thought I could reverse the situation there [in Memphis] and bring the team to the top. But, thank God, they ignored me.”
In an NBA where every superstar move appears to come with some sort of hostility and frustration, it’s heartwarming to see Gasol pay his respects to Memphis. The Raptors may have given him what the Grizzlies couldn’t, but it’s clear Gasol will always be thinking of his former home.