The Toronto Raptors were a star-laden team when Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, and the recently departed Pascal Siakam pushed them to the first and only championship in franchise history, but the exploits of Marc Gasol doing the dirty work in the paint.
Gasol was not the gaudiest scorer in the world, but his play on both sides of the ball was a lynchpin of the aggressive defense Nick Nurse instituted during their championship run. He and Serge Ibaka formed a 1-2 punch that general managers around the league would do unspeakable things to acquire.
After playing most of his career in small markets and often being overshadowed by his brother's numbers in a similar time period, Gasol's retirement should be the catalyst for basketball fans to remember the exceptional career that he put on display across multiple continents and generations of NBA fandom.
Gasol officially announced his retirement from basketball after 20 seasons, 13 of which were spent with the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Lakers. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Memphis is going to retire Gasol's No. 33 jersey relatively soon.
Former Toronto Raptors big man Marc Gasol retires
Gasol turned pro in 2003, just as his brother Pau Gasol was becoming a true force in the NBA for Memphis. After coming to the US in 2006, Gasol immediately established himself as a dominant interior scorer and shot-blocker. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game over a decade in Memphis.
While Gasol's numbers with the Raptors (8.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game) might look fairly ordinary, those who saw him game-in and game-out with Toronto were well aware of how much he impacted that team. His defensive presence was invaluable, as was his elite passing for a traditional center.
The Raptors needed to give up a first-round pick and pay Jakob Poeltl a ton of money to replace what Gasol brought to the table. Toronto has struggled with frontcourt depth for years, as the names they have brought into town to replace Gasol can't even hold a candle to what he provided.
After spending the last two years of his professional career back in Spain, Gasol has joined his brother in retirement. After all he accomplished in what was a legendary stint in American, Canadian, and Spanish basketball, Raptors fans need to make sure his impact on their franchise is not forgotten.