NEW YORK (AP) — Marc Gasol can hardly wait for one of the NBA All-Star game’s most mundane moments.
“I’m just really excited for the jump ball,” he said.
That’s because it will be against his big brother.
Teammates with their national team, once traded for each other and sharing a lifetime love of basketball that developed in their grandmother’s backyard in Spain, Marc and Pau Gasol will make history as the first brothers to start in the All-Star game.
“That jump ball is going to symbolize a lot of things, different ways to do things with the same kind of goal and what we stand for as players and as men, so that jump ball is going to be unique,” Marc said Monday. “It’s hard to put into words what that jump ball is going to mean.”
Not for those who know the brothers best.
“When you’re close to somebody like I am with those two guys, you feel really special,” said Knicks guard Jose Calderon, a longtime teammate of the Gasols on the Spanish national team.
“We’ve been working together and playing together for so many years, so it’s like a brother, like family. I think it’s really great for Spanish basketball, for Spain, even for the NBA. You’ve got two brothers starting for two different conferences. I don’t know if that is going to happen again in basketball.”
Pau, 34, is in his first season with the Chicago Bulls and was elected to start for the Eastern Conference. Marc, who has followed Pau as Memphis’ man in the middle, was voted by fans to start for the West.
It’s the first time two brothers will start the All-Star game. They are the first siblings to play in the same game since Tom and Dick Van Arsdale in 1970 and ’71.
“It’s a beautiful thing. We are a lucky family,” Pau said during a conference call with his brother.
It’s the fifth All-Star appearance for Pau, who was a star from nearly the minute he came to the NBA. He was the 2002 Rookie of the Year and the MVP of the 2006 world basketball championship, and he won two titles with the Lakers after they acquired him from Memphis during the 2007-08 season.
Success for the 30-year-old Marc, whose draft rights were traded from the Lakers to the Grizzlies in the deal, was slower and a little more unexpected — except to Pau.
“I’m just happy to see him do so well and also with his team, with the Grizzlies, a franchise that has also been a big part of my career,” Pau said. “Just overall, a lot of pride, a lot of joy to see your brother do so well, and I know he’s going to continue to do well.”
Time together is rare during the season — especially now that they are in different conferences. So they will enjoy these days in New York, along with parents, wives, kids and other supporters.
And Marc should have plenty of them inside Madison Square Garden. A free agent this summer who could draw interest from the Knicks, he laughed off the idea that he might receive some of the loudest cheers Sunday.
“I think there’s going to be many more popular guys than me in that arena, but I don’t know how it’s going to go,” he said. “It’s going to be one very unique night and I can’t wait to enjoy it.”
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