Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol, who was born and raised in Sant Boi de Llobregat in the Barcelona metropolitan area and later went on to play three seasons for FC Barcelona before spending time with Girona and then making the jump to the United States, was crowned NBA champion on Thursday night when the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors, 114-110, at the Oracle Arena in Game Six of the Finals.
The 34-year-old Gasol, who joined Toronto in February just before the NBA’s trade deadline — and following 11 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies — was instrumental in helping the club claim its first NBA title as well.
A three-time NBA All-Star and 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol was brought on board by Toronto specifically to provide muscle in the paint and to bolster the defense, and was one of the keys to helping the Raptors overcome the high-scoring Warriors, who were playing in their fifth straight NBA Finals and were seeking a rare three-peat.
Gasol started all six games in the Finals, highlighted by a 20-point, 7-rebound effort in the Raptors’ 118-109 victory in Game 1.
But while Marc Gasol is in the spotlight following the Raptors’ upset win over the Warriors, he was not even the first member of his family to win an NBA title. That honor goes to his older brother Pau Gasol — also a former FC Barcelona player — who won back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers (interestingly enough, those Lakers teams were led by Kobe Bryant, who is an avowed Barça fan).
Pau played for Barça from 1998 to 2001, two years before younger brother Marc joined the first team, and then went straight to the Grizzlies. On February 1, 2008, the Grizzlies traded Pau to the Lakers in a multi-player, multi-draft pick package that included the draft rights to Marc. It was the only time in NBA history that brothers have been swapped in a trade.
Pau went on to play six seasons for Lakers, followed by stints with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, before signing with the Milwaukee Bucks this spring.