SAN ANTONIO — The backyard battles between the Gasol brothers growing up in Barcelona were lively and sometimes contentious.
“We always liked playing 1-on-1,” said Lakers forward Pau Gasol following Wednesday’s shootaround. “We were always very competitive when we played and we did put in a lot of effort on defense.”
That effort turned younger brother Marc Gasol of the Grizzles into the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s a great award to receive, great recognition, great accomplishment for him and I’m just very proud of what he’s been able to do and what he’s become as a player and a person,” Pau said. “I’m a proud big brother.
“He gets it done on both ends of the floor. He’s a great anchor for their team. On the defensive end, he gets a lot of deflections, a lot of steals, gets blocks. He makes critical defensive plays and helps them be the defensive team that they are.”
ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said recently that whoever taught the Gasol players the game should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“You’ve got to give the credit to a lot of people,” Pau said. “We had a lot of coaches growing up. We paid attention to the fundamentals of the game, ballhandling, passing, court awarenesss, team ball. That’s what we’ve been taught since we were little and have been able to absorb it really well and put it to practice. Also the values that our parents taught us were also crucial as far as being humble and hard workers and respectful.”
Naturally, the question was posed of which of them is a better defender.
“Apparently Marc,” Pau said chuckling. “He has always been more of a hard-nosed player, does more of the dirty work. He has a bigger body and can be a little more physical and more effective with it.
“I’m not discontent with my ability to defend…When we had our championships I had to defend and I usually defended the best post-up player and was very successful and got some All-Defensive team votes a couple of years.
“But I’m not gonna take any credit for (the award). Marc has just grown into a magnificent player all around. Defense, offense and quietly, under the radar and I’m glad he’s getting the recognition he deserves.”
With the Lakers and Grizzlies in the same half of the Western Conference bracket, the brothers could meet in the next round of the playoffs if they advance.
“It would be a pretty amazing feeling,” Pau said. “I wish that would happen. We’re both in a disadvantaged position at this point this year. They’re down 2-0 against a team playing well and they took a really tough hit in Game 2, losing that way. And we’re playing against San Antonio. It is what it is. It’s a nice thought that we’ll continue to pursue.”