Marc Gasol Spoke to LeBron James About Criticism After David Fizdale's Firing

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2018

MEMPHIS, TN - FEBRUARY 23:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies on February 23, 2018 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

When the Memphis Grizzlies fired David Fizdale in November, the coach's strained relationship with star Marc Gasol was put under a microscope.

Well, the center isn't losing any sleep over the way things played out.

In an interview with Robert Alvarez of Spanish outlet El Pais (h/t Dionysis Aravantinos of Eurohoops.net), Gasol revealed that he doesn't believe he is the reason Fizdale lost his job. He also said he talked about the situation with LeBron James, who has reportedly had plenty of drama with coaches in his career.

"I talked with LeBron. He has also been criticized for the same reason," Gasol said. "There are many newspapers to fill. Fizdale is a recognized coach, and he has a lot of attention from the media. I should have solved my relationship with him before, but I don’t blame myself for his firing. My consciousness is clean."

Fizdale was an assistant coach for the Miami Heat from 2008-16, which included the four years James spent in South Beach. The pair made four trips to the NBA Finals and won two rings.

Even after James left Miami to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had his former assistant coach's back. When Memphis fired Fizdale one day after he benched Gasol, the four-time NBA MVP called out the move on Twitter:

LeBron James @KingJames

I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy

In 2016-17, Fizdale led the Grizzlies to a 43-39 record and a playoff appearance. He lasted just 19 games (7-12) into his second year in Memphis, and the team finished with the second-worst record in the Western Conference (and the league) at 22-60.

With tension between Fizdale and Gasol, the Grizzlies had to make a decision. And they sided with the three-time All-Star and 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year.

Gasol discussed the frustrating 2017-18 campaign with Alvarez:

"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. 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."

Gasol also noted that Mike Conley's heel injury contributed to the team's struggles. 

Meanwhile, it didn't take long for Fizdale to find his next gig, as the New York Knicks hired him to be their head coach in May.