Marc Gasol’s appreciation for sustained excellence

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The euphoria of winning an NBA title with the Toronto Raptors hasn’t faded from his memory, but Marc Gasol is now focused on Spain’s ongoing FIBA World Cup competition.

Even so, the veteran big man doesn’t run out of compelling things to say about being a champion, his friendly rivalry with older brother, Pau, and how his perspective changed when the Raptors conquered the Golden State Warriors in June.

Gasol addressed these issues in a revealing interview with NBA maven Marc Stein of The New York Times that was published earlier this week.

“How is your brother Pau taking it that there are two NBA champions in the family now?” Stein asked.

That question elicited this interesting response from Gasol:

“He keeps saying that he has two rings. I just say, ‘Maybe you have two, but I celebrated mine like it’s five, so I beat you on that one.’

“I didn’t know that I cared that much — that it fulfilled me in a way that I didn’t know it could. Instantly you gain so much respect for everyone who has done this. Golden State, going to five straight finals and the rings that they have, I just instantly got so much respect for them. And LeBron going to eight finals in a row. Just doing it once put me beyond the limits I thought I had — physically and mentally. It was great to see, for myself, pushing those limits and leaving everything out there. It was awesome.”

Gasol can’t hide the immense pride he feels about representing and leading Spain on the global stage.

“…It’s a great feeling to play with these guys, and you only get a few opportunities to do so,” Gasol told The Times. “To me it’s an honor to lead these guys in every way possible. I cherish every second.”