by Kevin Lipe
If you haven’t heard the news yet—which is probably only possible if you didn’t look at the internet, Twitter, or the TV news last night—Marc Gasol has been named a starter for the Western Conference team in the upcoming NBA All-Star game.
It’s Gasol’s second time appearing in the game, the first coming in the 2011–12 season. The only other Grizzly to appear twice in an All-Star Game is Zach Randolph, who did it in 2009–10 (his first season in Memphis) and 2012–13. Of course, his brother Pau was the Grizzlies’ first-ever All-Star selection in the 2005–06 season, which means that Gasol brothers have now made up 60% of all Memphis All-Star selections throughout history.
Gasol has certainly earned the honor, but it’s still sort of surprising to me that he actually collected enough fan votes to be a starter instead of a reserve (Gasol shares “frontcourt” duties—the league did away with the “Center” distinction in the 2012–13 season). The other two starting frontcourt players are Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin. The two backcourt positions are filled (for now) by Stephen Curry (who got more votes than LeBron James) and Kobe Bryant, but Bryant is apparently facing a rotator cuff injury that could be season-ending, meaning a replacement player will have to be named.
…which, since we’re talking about Griz All-Stars, may open up some room for Mike Conley to be named to the team in a crowded West field of guards. Conley’s game has elevated to yet another level this year, and he’s been getting quite a bit of press attention lately (with great profiles running on both NBA.com and Grantland), but the Western Conference is home to so many great point guards that it might still be hard for Conley to crack the team.
If Conley is named to the team, and we get to see the world-famous Conley/Gasol high pick & roll in the All-Star Game, well, that will be a genuine Moment in Grizzlies franchise history. Having Gasol be named a starter already is.