After a long and winding road over a decade with the franchise, Marc Gasol is no longer employed by the Memphis Grizzlies. The veteran big man was dealt to the Toronto Raptors in an interesting multi-player transaction on Thursday and, while that wasn’t a surprise given ongoing chatter about Gasol’s future in Memphis, the departure of the former All-Star still feels strange given his impact on the city and the organization.
With that as the backdrop, Justin Timberlake paid tribute to Gasol after the deal, calling him a “great friend” and posting an amusing video of Gasol and Grizzlies guard Mike Conley lending a helping hand in a time of mild crisis.
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#TBT to Thanksgiving last year… @memgrizz were on a West Coast road trip. I asked my two great friends @marcgasol and @mac11 to come over if they didn't have plans for the holiday. We hosted lots of friends and family so, naturally we had lots of kids… and a bouncy house. Of course, it just happened to rain that day. We couldn't figure out how to get the water off the bouncy house before it caved in… SO… Send in the pros!!!! Definition of REAL ONES! #ParentsKnow Lol! Marc, you are a great friend and one hell of an athlete. The city of Memphis is lucky to have had you as a leader in our community and an All-Star to stunt with… an irreplaceable force. It's with a heavy heart that I say BEST OF LUCK in TORONTO and to let you know that you are welcome at my table always, brother!
Beyond Timberlake, the Grizzlies released a video on social media to pay tribute to what Gasol did for the organization on the court.
Timberlake, who is a minority owner of the Grizzlies, isn’t the only one to speak glowingly of Gasol after his exit from Memphis but, considering his reach, this is a nice bit of recognition. It is worth acknowledging that the now 34-year-old big man isn’t quite as dominant on the court as he once was and, as a result, the Grizzlies didn’t receive the kind of overwhelming trade package you may associate with a player of his stature. Still, Gasol’s impact locally is quite evident when gauging the reaction to his trade and the Grizzlies pulling the trigger on a deal shouldn’t diminish that in any way.
It isn’t every day that someone like Timberlake would speak in glowing terms about an athlete in this way but Marc Gasol left his mark on Memphis and this had the feel of a genuine friend sending his best as a result.