Wednesday , Aug , 12 , 2009 Oly Sandor

To Rest or Play Hurt: L.A.’s dilemma with Pau Gasol and the European Championship

After jumping from Europe to the NBA, Garbajosa compromised his career with the Toronto Raptors by coming back prematurely from a broken leg to represent Spain in the European championship. Garbajosa’s leg was never the same. Neither were the Raptors. Without his blue-collar muscle, their win total fell from a franchise best 47 in 2007. And the forward, after receiving a buyout from Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, returned to Europe, while Toronto has since redone their team …


I hope the Los Angeles Lakers remember Jorge Garbajosa.

After jumping from Europe to the NBA, Garbajosa compromised his career with the Toronto Raptors by coming back prematurely from a broken leg to represent Spain in the European championship.

Garbajosa’s leg was never the same. Neither were the Raptors. Without his blue-collar muscle, their win total fell from a franchise best 47 in 2007. And the forward, after receiving a buyout from Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, returned to Europe, while Toronto has since redone their team.

I don’t want to frighten the purple-and-gold by bringing up Garbajosa, which is a worst case scenario. But the Lakers must be concerned with Pau Gasol breaking his finger while training for September’s European championship with the Spanish national side.

The All-Star needs surgery and should sit for a minimum of three weeks, which may include the Euro’ (the tournament starts September 7th). Now the Lakers are in a bind.

Common sense would dictate Gasol skips the event to get right for the NBA season. Repeating as world champions becomes tough without the four-man healthy. So ownership could ban Gasol from the tournaments, right? After all, the Buss clan are paying him to win Larry O’Brien trophies for ‘Jacko‘, ‘Flea’ and Los Angeles. Representing Spain is not part of the deal.

Well, hold on.

European and South American players take pride in representing their country. Restricting Gasol from the Euro’ or upcoming FIBA World Championship could damage the club’s relationship with their second best player.

Consider Gregg Popovich and San Antonio. The future Hall of Fame sideline boss knows he can’t stop stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker from suiting up for Argentina or France. In the past, both risked their professional livelihood with the Spurs to play hurt for their country.

It’s hard to fault Gasol for having the same strong feelings about representing Spain. Right now, the word is he’ll play through the injury and be ready for the tournament opener against Serbia. 

Of course, Gasol’s passion for country won’t make it easy for the Lakers to repeat.

Should Gasol play or sit the European Championship? Should his country, Spain, or club, the Lakers, take priority? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below. 
Follow Oly Sandor on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Photo courtesy of SantiMB