Gasol, Marshall go way back

Pau Gasol and Kendall Marshall met long before they were Lakers teammates. David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI -- With the growing influence of AAU basketball, it's not particularly rare these days to come across NBA teammates who were once on the same team at some point growing up.

The best players in the same age group from the same geographical area tend to join up. If they make it all the way to the league, it's almost a matter of time before they link as teammates once again with player movement being so prevalent.

The Los Angeles Lakers experienced a reunion on a whole different level this season when they acquired Kendall Marshall from the D-League.

Marshall, 22, met Pau Gasol more than a decade ago at the 2003 NBA All-Star weekend in Atlanta and he has the picture to prove it, sharing the photo of him and a clean-shaven Gasol on his Instagram account this week.

"When I was 11 years old, they had a program – I don't know if they still have it – but it was the Jr. NBA, Jr. WNBA. At All-Star weekend, it was either earlier (on All-Star Sunday) or the day before, you'll play a game," Marshall explained after a recent practice. "That year it was in Atlanta. So, it's like 7-8 kids from across the country play against 7-8 kids from Atlanta. It's a short game. It was a fun experience. You get to go to the Rookie-Sophomore game and the All-Star game and we were staying in the hotel as the players.

"So, I would literally sit in the lobby for eight hours a day, just waiting for players to come down and asking them to take pictures. I've got a full photo album of taking pictures with Jermaine O'Neal, Pau Gasol, Shammond Williams, Adam Sandler, like just a bunch of people who were walking through the lobby."

Marshall said his father sent him the photo after L.A.'s 102-100 overtime loss to Chicago, perhaps as a reminder that Marshall might have had a mediocre game against the Bulls – three points on 1-for-4 shooting, eight assists and four turnovers – but he's still come a long, long way.

"I was like, 'Whoa,'" Marshall said when he first realized what his dad sent him.

Gasol, 33, was the same age as Marshall is now when the photo was taken and at the same stage of his career as a second-year veteran.

"It's crazy," Gasol said. "Crazy how time flies by and coincidences in life. You take pictures with kids, you just never know. I don't remember specifically that moment … But it's funny how everything played out and now we play for the same team and he's our starting point guard now. It's a kind of funny picture and fact."

Marshall said the photo caught Gasol off guard.

"He was a little surprised. He was like, 'Man, I'm old,'" Marshall said. "It was a long time ago. It's funny how things come full circle like that."