The ringing of the balls on the ground echoes in the Fontajau pavilion in Girona. The team is training and with them Marc Gasol, pivot who acts as president. “I have prepared the exercise bike for you,” an employee tells him at the end of the session. Marc approves, but apologizes because he has an interview with EL PAÍS and then a meal with some businessmen. He always goes with limited time, on the run, but with a smile from ear to ear. He does not look at the clock, he does not set limits and with a slow and balanced speech, he honors his years in the NBA, because the treatment is exquisite.
Ask. The importance of Marc Gasol and his project can be explained with the gesture of the ACB to annul the article that prevented combining the presidency with the federative player’s license?
Reply. I think that the application of the standard was valued, whether it made sense or not. Translating it to the current situation, it didn’t have it. I imagine it was before, when presidents or managers who were not players wanted to dress up to play one weekend… I don’t know. But I share with the ACB assembly that this project was beneficial for all parties.
Q. Did you play PC Basket as a child?
R. Yes, we had the 4.5. But it doesn’t look like much, huh? Yes, there is a part, sports, player management and clothing, that could be worth it. But the management of the club, which is the most business and social, which is what stimulates me the most, is not learned with that reality. This is learned little by little, studying, proposing with the leadership of work teams, listening and even saying things that are not to the liking of someone.
Q. But he is also the center of the team. Are there two Marks?
R. It can be said like this. As a player everything is much more visceral, but as president you must make decisions with other keystrokes. The internal difference between the player and the president is very big. Outside I have a lot of patience. But on the track I don’t have that time. Outside, rational; inside, passionate
Q. Do your teammates and coach see you as a player or president?
R. Depends on the context. Here the limits are understood naturally. I never speak with my teammates or with the coach as president. When we are in another context, then the use is that of the chain of command. But there are always many of us making decisions, it is reconciled, it is debated. And if there is not a clear line, then I do go in more because I am clear about it. But over time I have seen that when someone believes in the path and matches what I think, even if it is not exactly the same, it can improve your vision and the result.
Q. Did you want to have a life plan when you retired?
R. I like to move in stages, through challenges. And it is clear that sporting life has an end. The when is chosen by the player, because one can retire in low categories. That is linked to the investment of time you dedicate to it, to the discipline you put in… If that goes down, you can’t expect everything to go well over the weekend. And that’s my barometer. When I see that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I am more motivated by the management of the club, I am already realizing that this is coming to an end. But I am clear that when you start something, the evaluation is done at the end and not during the process.
Q. Why did you dare to continue?
R. There comes a time when you are not clear about anything. You have experienced great things and it is not like when you were young. Now there are very important things like my children, the management of the club… But the part of playing, due to the commitment I have with these teammates, excites me. And accompany the team to make this transition to the ACB a little more stable.
Q. But, do you feel more president or player?
R. President, without a doubt. For the absolute responsibility of everything that happens in the club. And here a lot happens and very quickly. It is a new context and there are many social, environmental, sports projects…
Q. Do you want to import the NBA model?
R. You must learn from those who do it very well. Although there they have an economic capacity that does not exist here, perhaps in football for television rights. So it cannot be copied, but adapted to your capabilities. You have to excite and engage not only the fanatic but also the casual fan, who likes sports even if he doesn’t care if he wins or loses by 20, the one who wants to see a show and not just basketball. That is why we bring a skating team from the area, dance or music, DJ… In addition to offering a good gastronomic offer in the pavilion. That is important, as is not limiting the contact of the players. You have to re-educate them and make them understand that they are part of the community in which they play. We have school programs where they will give talks. Or social actions they must choose. We give them options: social, environmental, such as collecting plastic in the river or sea… They don’t just come to Girona to play and live very well. They have to get involved.
Q. He has also fully immersed himself in eSports…
R. Our partner is DUX, a benchmark in eSports. It is a company that is out of the ordinary and I like that. They wanted to do something in basketball, as is also done in soccer with FIFA. I look forward to learning and understanding that ecosystem, what the business goals are, how it works, and continuing to grow. We want to have a presence and, incidentally, motivate other clubs to look beyond what has always been done. You don’t have to be conformist but rather get out of the norm.
Q. Do you value being SA?
R. Yes. Letting other investors into the project would mean that people with whom you share values and vision of the club would come in to contribute financially and to improve the entity. It is necessary to open windows and let fresh air flow because that will improve the house.
Q. What values should your club transmit?
R. Methodology, effort and commitment. Those are the pillars from the beginning. But we have grown so much… Before it was a personal project, by Marc Gasol. Now he identifies with me, but my image will fade and the club will be above it because it is no longer just my vital project but that of many people. On the other hand, I am passionate about seeing the children wearing the Girona sweatshirt, seeing them playing, learning, sharing… More than playing at the Palau or on another great stage, I am proud of the base, training coaches and breaking the deck.
Q. And how do they break the deck?
R. With the methodology and what the new generations need. Before, the correction was by authority, because I say so, screaming, running… We normalized it and I came from that education, always angry and obsessed with the game. Now, you have to motivate them in another way, convince them that they like it, that they can have a great time. The father debates the coach, sometimes for better or worse, but you have to listen. Or the parents mess with the referee, with their son, and this must be improved. So one day we had the parents play with the children in the stands, saying things to them. This is how they saw that everything is heard, that the child is constantly aware of the father. A click, a reproach… They hear it. We must forget the mistake and we are going to see what the objective is as a father, which is none other than to give confidence. I don’t correct you, you missed, good shot and nothing happens. That’s why we do technical-tactical workshops with parents, about food, rest… It’s giving them tools so they understand how they can be a positive part of all this.
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Marc Gasol: “You don’t have to be conformist, but get out of the norm”