In a couple of days, the NBA free agency market will officially be open for business. Despite fans’ prognostications about the unbearable offseason to come just as the Golden State Warriors were Iguadola-ing, Curry-ing and Kerr-ing their way to a championship, these all too important seven dog days of July promise to keep things interesting. Should the mood and the money strike them, NBA owners, general managers and presidents will be wheeling and dealing their lights out in the name of winning it all in the not-to-distant-future. Even the league’s most casual observers among us will likely find the shock value, of both the real and the fake possibilities, to be nothing short of entertaining.
One of this summer blockbuster’s key character arcs is that of the NBA big man. DeAndre Jordan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love and Marc Gasol all have intriguing plot twists at their disposals that, depending on the point of viewpoint, will leave fans either cheering their heroism or jeering their villainy. Here’s a hint on which will be which: if they discover a path that leads them out of town, the denizens they see in their rear view mirrors won’t be cheering.
At least one organization has taken an active role in shaping their respective storyline. Teased on their website since last Friday, the Memphis Grizzlies premiered an audio/visual love letter to Marc Gasol today at Grizzlies.com. In a grand gesture that speaks to a defiant refusal to sit around and wait to see how it ends, the Grizzlies have presented a film to Gasol that they’re hoping will show him just how much they want it to end just the way it began-in Memphis. Gasol grew up there while his brother, Pau, played for the Grizzlies from 2001-2008. He went to high school and even played AAU ball in the bluff city. He’s an adopted son of the city and an important piece of any potential championship pies to come.
The film was directed by Craig Brewer of “Hustle and Flow” acclaim. After an open casting call was announced for a mystery project with his involvement, hundreds of Memphians turned out for their chance to work with the famous director. They didn’t know it then but, those selected to participate would be tasked with the very important responsibility of helping to remind Gasol that there’s no place like your adopted home. Future playoff appearances and banners in the FedEx Forum rafters are dependent on them getting it right. And so is the Grizzlies front office. They want Gasol to play in Memphis through the end of his career.
The star power doesn’t disappoint here either with appearances by Justin Timberlake, a minority owner of the team and fellow Grizzlies Mike Conley and Zach Randolph.
Ultimately Marc’s big brother might have the biggest influence on his decision to stay or go. It’s already been reported that the Lakers are likely ruled out as a destination because of the organization’s treatment of Pau his last few years there. Of course, before it was bad it was all good as he won rings with team in 2009 and 2010. The latter fact might play into a younger Gasol’s notion of the grass being greener outside of Memphis.
For now, whether Marc will choose an alternate ending than the one the Grizzlies laid out for him is a cliffhanger. It won’t be long, though, before the exciting conclusion.
In the meantime I’m giving the team four stars for their ingenuity and for laying their cards on the table in this unashamedly obvious attempt to hold on to one of the best things that’s ever happened to them. However, I should admit that I’m ridiculously biased in my critique since I have a part in the movie. Check me out around the 1:15-minute mark and stay tuned for the NBA free agency drama to come.
I once ran a 6 and a half-minute mile. So, there’s that.