In advance of his team's Sunday home game against the New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol spoke with reporters Saturday regarding his relationship with ex-Grizz and current Knicks lead man David Fizdale.
"Yeah, we spoke and we let each other know how we felt and we moved on. Private conversations are to remain private. The only thing is you live, you learn and you move on and things don't happen again. To me, that's what's important is we both learn from last season. We're both better professionals, better people and that's what the most important thing. ... We're both competitive. I don't think it's going to be one of those things. I think we'll both acknowledge each other and it's not that personal."
As reported by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News in a May 5 article, the two didn't see eye to eye when they shared time in Memphis for the 2016-17 season and 19 games in 2017-18: "The short answer is that he and Marc Gasol didn't get along. The complex reason, as league sources laid out, is that the partnership was doomed from the start."
Among other reasons, Bondy reported that Fizdale tried to implement his system ("the Miami Heat way") in Memphis, which was known for its "Grit 'n' Grind" style during the Gasol-Zach Randolph era. The "frosty" relationship, as Bondy described it, eventually ended after a 7-12 start in 2017-18 when Fizdale was fired. Fizdale went 43-39 in his first season in Memphis before the Grizzlies lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.
The Knicks picked up Fizdale before this season to help begin a significant rebuilding process. While the young team is 6-14, New York showed significant promise in impressive wins over the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. As Bondy notes, Fizdale is a far better fit in New York where he has more power and less resistance to mold a team in his image.
Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff took over for Fizdale and had his interim label removed before this season. His Grizzlies are tied for first in the Western Conference with a 12-6 record, and the 33-year-old Gasol is averaging 17.6 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. The "Grit 'n' Grind" is back, as the team is third in defensive efficiency after falling into a 22nd-place tie in that mark last year, per ESPN.com.
Overall, Gasol and Fizdale are in better places now, and it's good to see the two have moved forward.