Feature | Basketball

Brotherly love! Who is the better Gasol?

Spain's historic basketball brotherly duo have a legacy unmatched in their sport but Marc Gasol's role in Spain's 2019 FIBA World Cup title strengthens his argument.

By Sam Friedman ·

Spain are one of international basketball's traditional powerhouses, and in recent years they've been powered by the Gasol brothers.

In fact, they are arguably the best pair of brothers the sport has ever seen.

With Spain having taken home the title at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, we take a look at what Marc and Pau have achieved as we discuss 'Who is the better Gasol?'

We covered this topic recently on the Olympic Channel FaceOff on our Instagram and YouTube sites, which debates some of the trending topics in the world of basketball.

Gasol Brothers Face Off

The case for Marc

Let’s start with Marc. If this argument were solely based on stats, Marc is second to Pau.

While he does have two silver medals to his name by participating in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, Marc has played in two fewer Olympic Games than his brother while putting up less attractive stats.

  • Games participated: Two – 2008 (23 years old) and 2012 (27 years old)
  • Medals: 2008 (silver) and 2012 (silver)
  • Olympic Games averages: 10.1 PPG, 4.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.5 blocks. 1.8 turnovers
Marc Gasol lays the ball up in the gold medal game of the Beijing 2008 Olympics against Team USA

However, when you look at the stage of his career Marc was in heading into the 2008 Games, the debate takes a slight twist in his favour.

At only 23 years old in 2008 and having only played professionally in Europe, Marc had just entered the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies with an ever-developing game.

The 2011/2012 NBA season saw the beginning of a six-year run, which included the London 2012 Olympics, where Marc’s career started to peak in terms of performance.

This included multiple awards: NBA Defensive player of the year (2013), NBA All-Defensive second team (2013), three NBA All-Star selections (2012, 2015, 2017), All-NBA first team (2015), and All-NBA second team (2013).

He was considered the "heart and soul" of a Memphis Grizzlies team making the NBA playoffs seven straight years between the 2010-11 season and 2016-17, although the team failed to win the title.

But after being traded this year from Memphis to Toronto, Marc’s latest achievement? Being a key contributor in helping the Toronto Raptors win their first ever 2019 NBA Championship. In doing so, the Gasol brothers became the first siblings to both win an NBA title.

Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors holds the NBA Championship trophy

As for international competition with Spain, Marc would have played in Rio, but missed out due to a broken foot.

However, having been part of the Spanish team that won gold at the 2006 FIBA World Cup alongside his brother, Marc entered the 2019 FIBA World Cup as the lone Gasol brother on the roster due to Pau recovering from foot surgery.

Marc didn't disappoint as he was as important as ever in not only helping Spain qualify for the Olympics but by also playing an important role in Spain's 2019 FIBA World Cup title - his second and one that his brother won’t have.

Marc Gasol during the semi-finals march between Spain and Australia of 2019 FIBA World Cup

And as a reward for his overall tournament performance, Marc was named to FIBA's tournament All-star five.

Marc Gasol on stage after the FIBA World Cup Final after being announced to the tournament All-Star five.

The case for Pau

As previously stated, when judging this head to head match-up on stats alone, Pau has the advantage.

  • Games participated: Four – 2004 (24 years old), 2008 (28 years old), 2012 (32 years old), and 2016 (36 years old).
  • Medals: 2008 (silver), 2012 (silver), 2016 (bronze)
  • Olympic Games averages: 20.1 PPG, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.1 blocks, 2.2 turnovers

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At 39 years old, Spain’s 2012 flag-bearer won’t be competing at this year’s FIBA World Cup but the Olympics' all-time third-leading scorer has gone on the record to say he would like to play at Tokyo 2020.

Pau has achieved a standard of excellence over his career which has seen the NBA rank him as the number three international player ever behind only fellow Olympians Tony Parker (France, second) and Dirk Nowitzki (Germany, first).

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Standing at seven feet (over 2.1m) tall, the Barcelona-born Spaniard has been part of the national basketball system since junior levels.

His first taste of senior international success came in 2001. From there, the awards and titles kept coming. He and his brother do share a few International titles together but Pau has three more EuroBasket medals to his name, is a two-time FIBA Player of the year, and has a 2006 FIBA World Championship MVP to his name.

He is also a two-time-NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers and a six-time NBA All Star.

Pau’s later years on the court have held him back slightly due to injury but in his prime, domestically and internationally, not only was Pau a mainstay of Spanish basketball but one can make the argument that he’s one of the greatest European players to ever play the game.

Gasol dunks against USA in London

Spain's Pau Gasol strolls down the centre of the court for an epic dunk aga...

The Gasol brothers’ style of play couldn’t be more opposite but they have left a sibling legacy unmatched in the world of basketball.

No matter which brother you’d prefer to build your team around, what they have accomplished for Spain and their respective club teams is something that will be talked about long after they’re done playing.