One of the main reasons David Fizdale was fired as the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies last season was that he was not getting along with Marc Gasol, but the three-time NBA All-Star does not feel responsible for the way things ended.
In an interview with Robert Alvarez of the Spanish media outlet El Pais, Gasol opened up about the Grizzlies’ miserable 22-60 season. He also addressed reports that he pressured Memphis’ front office to fire Fizdale.
“My conflict is between my desire to win and my loyalty to Memphis. Memphis believes that I am part of the solution, not the problem,” Gasol said, as translated by Dionysis Aravantinos of EuroHoops.net. “It was part of a learning experience. When looking for a change, you need to find the cause. It occurred in a way that maybe was not the desired one. Thinking about it now, I would have acted differently, but I remain calm. In the end, a business of so many millions of dollars is not decided by one player. The relationship between a player and a coach was not the best in the world … you are right.”
Fizdale was fired just 19 games into the 2017-18 season, and there were indications that he had lost the locker room. Things seemed to come to a boil when Gasol was benched for the fourth quarter of a bad loss, which is something the 33-year-old alluded to.
“We came to losing eight games in a row. They fired him after a game in which I didn’t play in the last quarter,” Gasol said. “I ended with a sensation that I didn’t like and that I wanted to turn it over. Obviously, they focus on you. But it is a situation that you have to live and stay calm with. I wasn’t playing at a good level either. I was saying to myself, ‘Damn, I cant go through this.’ That was what worried me the most, above public opinion.”
One particularly alarming exchange between Fizdale and Gasol was when the big man reportedly told the coach he did not think the Grizzlies had enough to win a championship because they lacked leadership. Gasol indicated that is not how things unfolded.
“It was not like that. Far from it,” he said. “Respecting the conversations in the locker rooms is always critical. Understand how to keep quiet and let things happen. It is important to keep one’s principles firm and always to put them over everything. I will not go out and say what happened, for these exact reasons.”
Fizdale is said to have received a pretty impressive endorsement before the New York Knicks hired them to be their next head coach, so his tarnished relationship with Gasol didn’t end up being too costly. Gasol has spent his entire NBA career with Memphis, so you can understand why he is tired of losing. Time will tell if Fizdale was part of the problem.