Pau Gasol: More on his injured finger
Anyone who has followed Pau Gasol over the years knows his dedication to playing for his native Spain, so it shouldn't surprise to learn the All Star forward plans to stick with his national team, despite undergoing surgery on his left index finger- and after some initial confusion, the picture at right certainly indicates an injury to the left index finger- following a shot-block mishap in practice yesterday that led interphalangeal* ligament damage. Speaking at a Tuesday news conference, Gasol made that pretty clear:
"I am not overly worried as it isn't a very serious injury and in three weeks I expect to be back doing practically everything... I have explained the situation to the Lakers, and they have the results. They aren't pleased I am injured but I don't think they'll put obstacles in my way... I am making sure the lines of communication with them are open and clear, and hope I won't have to travel over there. My wish is to be with the team and to enjoy Eurobasket."
The timeline, far as I can tell, runs thusly: Spain opens up EuroBasket play in Warsaw September 7 against Serbia. According to a statement released by his country's hoops federation, ""The player must wait between twelve and fourteen days for the removal of the stitches and a total of twenty with a splint on his finger. After those twenty days he can touch the ball with some form of protection." Presumably a pad or splint of some sort, though a kevlar glove or phalanx of bodyguards could also work. (And isn't it a little clinical to refer to Gasol as "the player?" The guy was the MVP of the '06 World Championships. Are they not on a first name basis at this point?)
20 days without a ball in his hands takes Gasol to the end of August, a solid week before the start of the tournament, which runs until the 20th of September. So if the timeline for recovery is accurate and he heals properly- that sound you just heard was not gunfire, but Lakers fans worldwide knocking on wood- it seems reasonable Gasol wouldn't be able to suit up for Spain during the tournament. I'm sure all of you, like folks in LA's front office, will be cucumber cool and worry free while he does, right?
No doubt this will rekindle the debate on NBA players and international tournaments. I've always maintained, and still do, that it's nearly impossible to ask a guy not to play for his country, especially when participation is often considered not just simply an honor but a duty. But this is the sort of thing that gives those more concerned about the Larry O than the Euro-O the willies. Gasol should be fine, assuming he allows time for proper healing, but does the drive to play for one's country make that time tough to come by?
*Absolutely the new Word of the Day.