Brothers in the same league

Gasol on ice. . . .

Even before the Lakers’ 2008 deal with Memphis that shook the NBA, they had a member of the family in their future, although it was Pau’s little — or, at least, younger — brother, Marc, whom they drafted in 2007.

Not that anyone outside the Gasol family thought much about it, with Marc going No. 48, 18 picks into the second round, and eight after the Lakers took Sun Yue.

That was the draft in which Greg Oden and Kevin Durant went 1-2, and the summer Kobe Bryant went off on the Lakers.

Marc was in Spain, under contract for another season, a roly-poly, maybe-he-can-be-a-backup-center-one-day afterthought.

Pau was in Memphis, getting blamed for everything that went wrong while cost-cutting management looked for a taker for his big contract.


Three years later, Pau is a Laker with three more All-Star appearances and two championship rings.

In his place in Memphis is Marc, who has become a starter and could one day be an All-Star.

“He had great size,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “He had great hands. He could shoot the ball. He had a feel for the game. His body was just beginning to develop.

“He was just an overweight player. He was that way in high school, too.

“To his credit, he’s really worked on his body. Not only the year we had his rights [when Marc played in Spain] but the last three years.”

Pau’s Lakers met Marc’s Grizzlies Tuesday night, not that there was anything else memorable about it for anyone outside the family.

Pau got his usual 21. Marc played only 28 minutes but got 11 with eight rebounds and five assists. The Lakers turned it into the now-customary rout, leading by 29 points on the way to winning, 124-105.

If Pau can now laugh it up at Marc’s expense, the Gasol brothers are too solicitous of each other’s feelings to do that stuff.

“No, no, no,” Marc said before the game. “We’re too competitive for that. We don’t mess around because we know one of us is going to be very mad and frustrated after the game.

“So we try not to talk about it, before or after. We know it’s just a game but we try not to talk about it.”

These days, Pau isn’t frustrated often, barely noticing when Coach Phil Jackson zings him (“A lot of times we tell him we traded the wrong guy”) or if Phil has more fun at his expense before this game.

As someone noted, Pau came in averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds. Wasn’t that enough to satisfy Jackson?

“I didn’t say it didn’t satisfy me,” Jackson said, laughing. “I just said his brother was going to beat the . . . out of him.”

I don’t know how kids are brought up on the Continent but that’s the way we do it in the US of A, not to mention the NB of A.

Pau was a phenom, who made the Spanish national team as a teenager and went No. 3 in the 2001 NBA draft at age 20.

Marc is four years younger, and was a good deal rounder and klutzier, and Pau didn’t beat up on him growing up.

So, what’s the point in being the older brother?

“He was a pioneer in many aspects,” says Marc. “Pau has always been a role model for many people.

“I mean the way he behaves. He’s a very humble guy. Even though he has won two rings and has done many things before for the Spanish national team, he’s always the same way. He never changed. . . .

“Before, he always acted like a big brother. Now we’re just brothers. There’s no big brother anymore. He always gives me advice when he watches my game and I do the same thing.”

The first NBA brothers to be traded for each other, the Gasols are missing only one thing to become the best big-man brother tandem ever. . . .

Someone to put them in tandem.

They actually play together for Spain, which doesn’t use them together, or as Marc puts it, “I’m his backup.” Given further development, it could even happen in an NBA All-Star Game. Hey, they’ve already gotten this far.