Sporting special MLK warmup tees, Marc Gasol comes out during the introductions.

Marc Gasol is a superhero.

When the Grizzlies traded his brother Pau for him in 2008, I remember thinking the Grizzlies were getting the tougher Gasol brother. I said, “If you find yourself in a bar fight, which Gasol do you want to have your back?”

Well, I don’t know what would really happen in a bar fight. But apparently, if I were a refugee in an inflatable raft in the Mediterranean Sea, I know which Gasol brother is on the way.

In a really neat feature story, ESPN tells the story of how Gasol found himself aboard “Open Arms” — a tiny rescue boat that patrols the Mediterranean looking for refugees who are seeking to escape oppression.

And a bit of news that filled me with dread and admiration: Apparently Gasol didn’t tell the Grizzlies he was, y’know, risking life and limb out in the middle of the sea. Check it this excerpt:

Gasol has followed the work of Proactiva Open Arms “from a distance” for a little more than a year. He was moved by the desperation of the immigrants and by the efforts of NGOs such as the nonprofit Proactiva to rescue them. When Camps asked him to join a mission, he didn’t hesitate.

“It’s something that I truly believe in and something that I really feel,” says Gasol, who didn’t ask the Grizzlies for their blessing to take the trip, nor did he provide the team details of what it entailed. “Probably won’t be the same guy after the mission. And I’m aware of that, and I’m OK with that.”

There are those close to Gasol who asked if this trip was really a good idea. Even his wife, Cristina, had her concerns before offering full support. But to Gasol, there were no second thoughts.

“If you want to be able to tell a story to other people and to bring more awareness to the issue, you have to go through it,” he says. “I am nervous. … I’m anxious because the not knowing.”

“The worst being?” I ask.

“Death,” Gasol says. “The worst being little children floating in the water.”

Like I said, Marc Gasol is a superhero. Go read the story, and gain a new level of appreciation for Big Spain.