Kobe Says Him and Pau Are Package Deal
It certainly hasn't been an easy few seasons in Los Angeles for Pau Gasol.
Hoopsvibe's Quick Call: After a comment Kobe Bryant made to reporters in Barcelona, Spain earlier today, Gasol should feel a little better about his future in a Lakers uniform. Unless, of course, Kobe isn't telling the truth.
While the 7-foot Spaniard has been a premier post-player for the Lakers and has won two NBA championships with the organization (2009 and 2010), Pau Gasol's spot on the roster always seems to be up in the air.
Things started to get difficult for Gasol during the 2011 season when reports of his poor playoff performance plagued him. The Lakers got swept by the Mavericks in four games and Gasol's decline was cited as one of the main reasons.
Not to mention, during this time, rumors surfaced that Gasol's long time girlfriend was having an affair with his teammate, Kobe Bryant. (It's not hard to understand why his play suffered after hearing that information.) Regardless, Pau did not bash his teammate or girlfriend in the media. Rather, when asked if his play in the playoffs had been a direct result of the off-the-court issues surrouding him, Gasol took the high road, saying, "I have to learn that when something happens off the court, you have to keep it off the court."
Then, when news came out this past season that the Lakers were looking to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando, Pau's status on the team became constantly in question. Rumors of Gasol on the trading block were so rampant that It became increasingly difficult for the big man to maintain focus. So much so that Kobe Bryant eventually lashed out on Lakers management to reporters this past February.
"Pau, it's hard for Pau because of all this trade talk and all this other stuff, it's hard for him to kind of invest himself completely or immerse himself completely into games when he's hearing trade talk every other day. I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him," Bryant said.
Gasol was never traded but would eventually struggle in the playoffs for the second consecutive year. His numbers were down from his regular season averages and many said his play was weak. I was able to watch a few Lakers games in person this past season and while I've always like Gasol, I definitely noticed a lack of intensity. On the defensive end, he wasn't aggressive. On the other side of the ball, he defaulted to Kobe and Bynum and appeared to get lost in the offense.
Unfortunately for Pau, the lack of stability for him in Los Angeles persists. With the Lakers recently signing Steve Nash and still in talks for Dwight Howard, Gasol has every reason to feel uneasy. However, NBA.com editorialist Sekou Smith reported on 10 crucial words Kobe Bryant uttered about Pau to interviewers in Spain earlier today: "As long as I'm there, he's going to be there."
For the sake of Pau's sanity, let's just hope Kobe is telling the truth.
Team USA is set to face Spain tomorrow at 4:30 P.M. eastern time.
It sounds like Kobe and Pau will have plenty to talk about.
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