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Pau Gasol exit interview

Gasol spoke at length with the media, covering everything from his upcoming Olympic experience to the range of adjustments he had to make coming to a winning franchise. Fair to say, the culture in L.A. is different from the one he left in Memphis. He's excited about the prospect of playing in the same frontcourt as Andrew Bynum and believes the team is certainly moving in the right direction, despite how things ended. (They did make the Finals, after all, so it's hard to argue.) It's interesting, too, to hear Gasol talk about the charge that he and his teammates were soft. To reach the Finals, winning the top spot in the Western Conference and beating the Nuggets, Jazz, and Spurs, the latter two being very physical, tough teams, makes that impossible, he said. Had they been truly soft, there's no way the Lakers would have made it as far as they did.

All that and more, in four parts, below.

BK

 
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Can't wait to see Bynum and Gasol together, but Gasol really needs to improve those little 10-15 footers. If the other teams don't respect that, the Lakers are going to have spacing issues.

totally agree.. hes gotta take/nail those with more frequency.

Can you guys set the videos to not auto-play? :D

Denying that he is soft is what makes me not like Gasol. He brings a lot to the party but toughness -- both mentally and physically is not part of his game.

Soft touches to the glass instead of two handed dunks have too high a margin for error -- or a block.

Missed free-throws are often a sign a player's head isn't in the game. He has the skillz, he just lacks the will.

Too many needless turnovers happened in the Playoffs because Gasol's head was not in the game.

A player who covets greatness does not make these mistakes. A player who covets greatness doesn't contend that a losing effort is good enough. Simply put, Gasol refuses to covet greatness, despite his incredible size and abilities. I believe true champions are born with a special DNA. Gasol has yet to prove that he has the makings of a true Champion.

Rick Friedman,

You know what Rick. F, Your absolutely right. I agree with you 100%.

AK/BK,

Did anyone in the media think to ask Pau about the Ludden article proclaiming that he fretted about the pressures of winning in LA? I’m curious about how he feels (assuming there was any truth to the article in the first place) now that he’s experienced defeat and the negative publicitythat goes with it (calling him “soft”, it’s “his fault”, etc.). I mean, they did make it to the Finals and put up a good fight up until Game 6, yet the media (and some fans) are acting like they got whooped on by the Hawks in the first round. I’m worried how that type of negativity will affect his desire to play here. After all, his boy just quit the NBA to go play in Spain for more money.

BTW, top-notch job as always, especially when I can clearly hear you cutting off other reporters and getting the instant response from the players. Way to let them know who’s in charge. Question: Since 80% of the coverage seems to reside on your blog as opposed to the rest of the Times’ website, I’m wondering if you’re receiving the equivalent percentage of the payroll? You got a family to feed, right?

Lolo,

Nobody ended up asking Pau about that Yahoo! article. I can't speak for the rest of the media, but it personally never popped into my head. Although based on his statement that he didn't pay attention to what was written or said, I'm guessing his answer would have been along the lines of not having read it and not being afraid of the pressure that comes with winning here (whether true or not, what else is he gonna say?).

I did ask him if the "soft" statements bothered him, which I thought sparked a pretty interesting answer. If nothing else, it's the only time I've ever heard Pau use the phrase "check yourself," which I thought was pretty amusing. Granted, it wasn't as good as if he had added "before you wreck yourself," but still something of a classic moment. haha

Thanks for the nice words, by the way. Glad to see you around again.

AK

Rick Friedman,
What the @#$! do you know about championship DNA and greatness? - you are sitting at home commenting on an internet blog. Don't tell me you know about it from watching games on your T.V. that would be pathetic. Show me your credentials. and by the way where does Pau ever say or even imply that their effort was "good enough"?

Pau's comments were spot on. The Lakers lost to a team consisting of three future hall of fame players who previously hadn't won shite- not to mention smart tough veterans off the bench who knew how to win.. They were hungrier....and rightfully so.

The Lakers will learn from this, and hopefully move to the next level....i believe next year will be the year to judge this Laker team

Basketball I.q.,

you say 3 future hall of famers...that was a team championship....there are alot of former laker players with more rings...and strong bodies of work careers....look at AC Green, look at Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Kurt Rambis, etc. Don't put a "Welcome All" mat on the Hall of Fame...here's another name to throw in the hat...Dennis Rodman. By the way, are we going to have to watch commercials next year with those 3 guys groping the trophy again. I guess we'll have to ask D. Stern, because he's the one who makes the decisions.

AK,

Thanks for the reply.

I too found it funny when I heard him say “check yo self”. Maybe he’s trying to get LA-cultured. Give that man some 2PAC. HA!

Next thing you know Sasha will be saying “Pump your breaks”, or “pour yourself some Haterade”. With his accent, that would be hilarious. I guess it would sound like Samir from Office Space rapping “Back up in your ass with the resurrection”.

As far as Pau, I guess I thought it was a small subtlety that was worth asking. “Soft” talk aside, he might not have the thickest of skins, which you tend to need around here. I just hope it’s not an issue in the future.

Rick Friedman was right on one thing. He did generate a number of turnovers in the later rounds of the WC playoffs (moreso than the FInals themselves).

As for his "softness," well, I'll use a football analogy. Take, for example, Dwight Freeney. Great speed rusher. Good run defender from the DE spot. But suppose injuries forced him to move to defensive tackle, and in the playoffs against the Steelers, he had to go against Alan Faneca? Freeney likely loses that matchup.

Gasol was forced to move inside to the center position from his natural PF position. He got banged around as a result. On defense, KG could take him any time he wanted, but KG's going to win that matchup regardless. Plus, I think Coach Jackson's apparent lack of adjustments didn't help his effectiveness much.

Sure, he's finesse. And maybe he disappeared under the pressure, having gotten out of the first round for the first time in his career. But he's the big reason the Lakers got to the Finals in the first place; no way this squad gets there without him. For his minuses, I think Pau Gasol will be better the next time around, as a PF.

Basketball I.Q,

>>> What the @#$! do you know about championship DNA and greatness?

I love it when I'm attacked by someone hiding behind a new, anonymous handle. That's pathetic.

The qualities of greatness are the same in every walk of life. They include the willingness to take responsibility for failures and the willingness to do whatever it takes to be better every single day.

When you say the Celtics wanted it more, maybe you're right, but I don't think so. No matter what you do in life, you should want the challenge of going toe-to-toe with the best, and find a way to rise to the occasion. Otherwise, stay home.

Love the comments regarding Pau here - insightful, contentious and varied - rightfully so. However, we have to remember a couple things - Pau has won a championship in Europe. He knows the pressure his country puts on him to win - much like soccer.

But you also have to look at his 6 years with Memphis where his teams were zeroes - that breaks you down competitively and mentally. And the Grizz just don't have the winning tradition the Lakers do. I believe this move was a bit overwhelming for Pau and he had to adjust as quickly as possible to keep the Lakers in the position they were. Pau arrived and we were in "must win" situations for the entire time. And he was asked to take on that pressure cooker the minute he arrived. Without Pau - we would have been a 7 or 8 seed or maybe the Warriors. He's lucky MVP took to him right away and he performed around the basket or this could have been a ticking time bomb.

Remember what MVP said at training camp: I'm KB and I want to win a championship. That sets the bar and unfortunately Pau wasn't there to hear that. I think being with MVP and D-Fish for the last 5 months has been great for his mentality but think what a full year will do! Hearing what MVP said at the start of the season, then going out and playing with that expectation are two totally different things.

Now he sees what is and will be expected of him and with some rest to really think about it - I think you see a totally different "winning" mentality next season from Pau. He has been able to get by with his "game" for the last 5 months, you can bet MVP and D-Fish will work on his head - I have no doubt.

My concern with Pau is that he is not going to have time this Summer to really work in a strength/training program to help him physically for a long season. That's going to be key for us and I hope he takes that seriously. I think its going to be very hard given the Olumpics, sponsor and time pressures he will have in Spain (he is #2 athlete behind Nadal) and working on his training program to make a big improvement physically. And I don't see that changing throughout the season because of the following.

I think it will be interesting to watch over the course of next season how his off-court time is spent. He will have even more Laker organization pressures to represent the Spanish speaking community which he didn't have because they were busy with their playoff run. Now, the Lakers will have this Summer to build an entire season ad campaign around Pau and that will take away from training as well.

He needs to get his back much stronger to withstand the pressures of much longer seasons with the Lakers and that's what I will be watching with Pau this coming season. But I still like the potential.........

GO LAKERS!!!

A little more on my Pau feelings........he's the only other real "superstar/celebrity" guy on this Laker team.

So, I suspect his Spanish sponsors to increase tremendously this Summer as well which adds further pressure both here and there. It's a lot different being a big wig in Spain walking around in a Lakers jersey than it is the Grizzlies......

Have fun all!

GO LAKERS!

There's no argument Pau was an integral part of the Lakers'success this past season. However, Pau's pedestrian performace in the Finals raised some concerns about his mental and physical toughness necessary to compete at championship levles against high-caliber opponents. Pau's finesse nature may work against mediocre competition in the regular season but not in the post-season where warriors come out to play. In order to achieve success in the Finals Pau needs to establish himself more physically on both ends of the court. The question remains: Does he have the wherewithal to be physical and compete against goons and bruisers at 4 spot. We'll need to write this one off as a work in progress this off-season, which should include a strict regimen of strength and conditioning training and remedial work on low-post fundamentals such as boxing out-rebounding and strong inside-move scoring.

Rick Friedman,
I'm still calling you out on your comments on Pau. What credentials do you have to call out an individual who has achieved championships on an international level, is probabaly one of the 30 best at what he does in THE WORLD, and in about half a season with a new team -nearly helped lead them to a champinship?

Yeah, Pau failed in this one....it happens. Magic failed miserably before...so has Worthy....So has Garnett, Pierce, and Allen.....Those three's big game credentials were pretty pathetic up til now.

So tell me more about you championship DNA theory. do you have it? Have you achieved anything in your life path anywhere close to what Pau has in his profession?

you still haven't answered to when Pau ever said the effort was "good enough".

you say, "No matter what you do in life, you should want the challenge of going toe-to-toe with the best, and find a way to rise to the occasion. Otherwise, stay home."

Fine and good words but we all have to lose in life too. Otherwise Michael Jordan would have had the championship every year he played.

I never saw Pau not wanting to go toe to toe with the best. He just had tough time getting it done...as did the entire Laker squad.

I think it's more important to judge this laker team when we see how they react to this years finals lose next season.

That is how I will judge someones character....by their reaction to failure and adversity. Everyone fails ....that is not what makes someone a failure.....it's their response to it.

I didn't realize you needed credentials to point out an obvious issue with a sports figure.

Someone plays in a way that causes one to wonder, "Does he have what it takes?" Then one expresses the idea prompted by watching someone play.

It strikes me as pretty damn natural.

I'm glad Pau did not take "soft". Besides, what do people expect?... He admits the team is soft?!!?

I agree with Gasol, the Lakers including Pau is not soft. They are just not tough enough to play with these Celtics. Or more correctly, they did not want it as bad as the Celtics.

Agree with Bball IQ; "....by their reaction to failure and adversity. Everyone fails ....that is not what makes someone a failure.....it's their response to it."
I'm very, very eager to see how these Lakers will respond to their Game4 collapse & Game6 layback. Judging by a Championship(Europe or World) under Gasol's, the adversity Odom endured thru his life, Farmar's confidence-borderline-cockiness, the size of Ronny's heart, Kobe being Kobe, need anyone needs to say more about Fisher! Plus, the fact they pulled out game #5, ugly as it was. The Lakers next season ought to be "great".

Baring any major injury.
Cannot wait for the Lakers to kick Celtics butt next season, and see a different kind of tears from KG & Red Aurbeck chocking with his cigar.


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