NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pau Gasol and younger brother Marc have enjoyed many things together in life, but Sunday will provide them with an NBA first when they share the floor in the All-Star Game.
The Spaniards will become the first brothers to start the annual game and as centers for their conference teams will face off for the jump ball to open the contest in Madison Square Garden.
They commanded a horde of attention that rivalled the throng surrounding LeBron James and Kevin Durant during Friday’s All-Star Media Day.
Who will win the tip?
Marc, 30, of the Grizzlies took the question somewhat seriously.
“I don’t think it matters who wins it,” the West center said. “I know we’re both going to go for it, no matter what we say right now.”
Pau, 34, now with the Bulls of the East after six-plus seasons with the Lakers, touched on the historical significance.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “For this to be the first time is extremely meaningful. We’re just thrilled as a family, overwhelmed.”
It is Marc’s second All-Star honor and Pau’s fifth, and their first together.
Not since Dick and Tom Van Arsdale played in All-Star games in 1970 and 1971 have brothers been in the same mid-season classic. But never has there been sibling starters among more than 70 sets of NBA brothers.
Marc said the brothers grew up competing.
“We’d do anything, we’d play any sport. We’d go from tennis to ping pong and bocce ball,” he said. “It’s just something that we love, to play sports.”
Marc, who stands 7-foot-1 (2.16 m), said watching 7-foot (2.13 m) Pau scale the heights in the NBA had helped him.
“I’ve been really fortunate to be really close to Pau, to have seen him play, to see how he acted,” Marc said.
“Once I had the chance to do the same thing, I had a little cheat sheet where I could look.”
Pau, who played on back-to-back NBA championship teams with the Lakers, found the occasion nostalgic.
“This is the hotel where I stayed when I was drafted,” said Pau, taken third overall in the 2001 Draft. “To be here now as an All-Star 14 years later, with my brother, with everyone around covering this moment, it’s incredible.”
Editing by Gene Cherry