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Pau Gasol: Still the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA?

Pau Gasol shoots over Dwight Howard Kobe Bryant fans will dig this offering from Shaun Powell at NBA.com, in part because it...

a) praises 24, generally.
b) questions LeBron's chances of winning a title with his supporting cast.
c) contains this sterling quote from Association legend Rick Barry regarding Bryant's play and leadership skills:

"You heard all the garbage about Kobe being so selfish," said Barry. "Those people had no clue. Kobe shows up every night and is a great competitor. He tried to do too much early on because he didn't have the confidence in his teammates. It made him look selfish, but he wasn't. Once Kobe got Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher back and Lamar Odom started playing the way he's capable of playing, he adjusted. He respected those guys. I was so happy for Kobe this season. I admired his professionalism and commitment."

All well and good. But what really caught my eye was the following, from Powell:

"...Kobe beat the Magic in the NBA Finals without the help of a megastar teammate (sorry, Pau), and while LeBron, the reigning MVP, has no reason to want to be like Kobe, he definitely wants to do like Kobe... What Kobe did was stick a finger in the eye of conventional NBA thinking, which says a team needs at least two big-timers to even dream about winning a title. You know: Michael/Scottie, Tim/Tony, KG/Pierce/Ray, etc. While the Lakers were certainly blessed with Pau Gasol and quality players who did what they do well, the achievement gap between the best and second-best on that team was wider than Eddy Curry. The Lakers orbited around the otherworldly skills of Kobe, who helped elevate his supporting cast when it mattered most..."

Really?

That the Lakers are built around Kobe Bryant is self-evident, as are his "otherworldly" skills. He deserved his Finals MVP and all the vindication that came with it. But while understanding that only one guy gets to drive the car, can we finally dispense with the notion that Pau Gasol isn't a top shelf shotgun companion? I'd like to think at this point Powell's opinion is more an outlier than mainstream, but just in case, I'll be clear:

Pau Gasol is an outstanding, upper echelon player, who played outstanding, upper echelon basketball throughout the season and through the playoffs.

It seems to me that rather than being elevated when it mattered most, last year Pau was all floaty and such from moment one.

In the regular season, he averaged 19 points a game (26th in the NBA, but his 12.9 shots a night were fewer than all but one of the guys ahead of him) on 56.7% shooting (fifth in the league), while grabbing 9.6 rebounds a game (8th). Fancier numbers back up his value especially well. Pau's true shooting percentage was the Association's fifth best at 61.7%. He was first in offensive rating (125.6), fifth in offensive win shares (10.1), tied for ninth in defensive win shares (4.3) and fourth in overall win shares (14.3, ahead of Kobe's 13.0).  Gasol's PER (22.2) was 12th, sixth among frontcourt players. As for the playoffs, again Gasol was strong, registering double-doubles in 16 of his final 20 games, including nine straight at one point. At 4.4, his win shares total ranked fourth, (defensively, he was second) just behind Dwight Howard and within spitting distance of Kobe's 4.8. 

Plus, he did great work on both ends against Howard in the Finals, and is undoubtedly one of the most skilled ball handling and passing bigs in the league. If his usage rate (calculated at 20.4% on Basketball Reference, 19.3 at ESPN.com, outside the NBA's top 100) wasn't so frightfully low, Gasol's raw numbers would look better and this conversation probably wouldn't need to take place.

With the possible exception the KG/Paul Pierce combo in Boston, Pau is as good a number two player as you'll find in the NBA. The notion that somehow he was just along for the ride or that he's not a "big timer" (certainly as much as Tony Parker is relative to Tim Duncan) is flat out wrong. Does Kobe's presence improve Gasol and make it easier for Pau to operate? Of course, but the converse is also true, as it was with Jordan and Pippen, Duncan and Parker/Ginobili, and so on. Just as it is in the eternal Kobe vs. Jordan vs. LeBron debate, greatness doesn't have to be a zero sum game.

Give Kobe all the credit he deserves, but it shouldn't come at the expense of those who helped him to a title. There's room on the awesome wagon for more than one guy.

BK

(HT: True Hoop)

 
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Arguably the best power forward in the league. If not that, then, like Kobe, he's probably the most efficient and most skilled. Perfect for the triangle post positions.

KG's still got an edge on foot speed, defense, and making teammates cry. But Pau did a pretty good job of stopping Dwight Howard, and playing strong in a WC playoffs that supposedly had tough players that would knock him around.

Nice post. I argued wtih friends all year long that Gasol's command of fundamentals -- awesome mid-range FG % and rebounding -- was key to winning it all. Maybe a lack of flash and a skinny (but strong as all heee-eell) build aren't sexy enough for the kids, eh?

Shaun Powell has his head in his anus.

I understand where Powell is coming from but, like you, I disagree. Pau has so much grace as a player that his performance gets overlooked. Many pundits see him as a soft player, not capable of all-star status. I tend to give him a lot of credit for being incredibly flexible (like LO). I will take this guy any time as a solid team oriented guy with great skill.

So he thinks Ray Allen is more big time than Pau? Sure Allen is good and all but please, anyone would say Pau is currently a better and more important player than Allen... except maybe Powell.

MJ >> Kobe
But Pau > Scottie

Not to belittle Kobe or Scottie, but that's just the way I see it.

With another 2 rings, MJ > Kobe
With another 3 rings, MJ >= Kobe

In only his first year, the Lakers were able to reach the Finals and win it all. Is the presence of Sun Yue and a NBA title just a coincidence? Probably yes.

I'd also like to add that Pau, in my opinion, was the best second-man in the NBA. That statement says a lot considering the NBA has plenty of talent for that position.

BK,


I think you nailed that one good. Pau definitely fulfilled whatever Tonto qualifications it requires to be considered as part of a championship duo. At any rate, just another hack with a controversial pro-Kobe take for a change seeking attention. Pau definitely contributed as much to the Lakers winning the championship last year as Scottie, Tony, Pierce, or Allen did to win theirs– probably more because of Andrew being injured. And nobody can deny that Pau played anything but soft in the Finals.


So why does Pau get disrespected? Some of it is because he is a Euro and has at times disappeared and been intimidated by more physical players. Some of it is probably because he never seemed as driven and never really demanded to be traded to a contender. I think to an extent, Pau is an artistic guy who appreciates playing the game for the art that it is. He doesn’t possess the killer instinct of a Kobe Bryant. That doesn’t mean he cannot be competitive and I think you can specifically thank playing with Kobe for that. He has challenged Pau and as a result Pau has elevated his game.


And finally, some of it is because of the sudden realization by the media that Kobe Bryant “really” may surpass Michael Jordan’s accomplishments. Six rings seems like a modest prediction of how many rings Kobe will win before he hangs them up. Personally, I’m betting on eight. Next year is the Drive for Five for Kobe, which would tie him with Magic Johnson. Think about that. Tied with Magic. That IS magic. It is a joy to me to see Kobe finally getting his due. His will is the 8th wonder of the world.


I found the ESPN predictions to have their usual East Coast bias, what with the Cavs having as many supporters for the NBA title as the Lakers. To me, that is great news. One of my competitive joys will always be seeing LeBron not able to get to the Finals. He may wow crowds like Dominique Wilkins, but it will be Kobe Bryant winning the rings like Michael Jordan. The ESPN crew and the rest of the NBA are going to be in for a big surprise at how much better this year’s Lakers are going to be. Artest and a healthy Drew are going to transform this team into an offensive and defensive dynamo.


Tom

You know with the speed of these threads im starting to get excited....

Pau is like a additive you add to your engine for better fuel economy ..
Your car wont go faster but it runs a lot smoother while still giving a huge fuel economy....

These guys just wish they had the same stuff...The Green people are very close to the point when a piston goes through the block..the only way to fix the 17 year old problem they have already gone through is about to be gone through again...Oh wait maybe not..they have Scalbrinie and House so they should be ok..

that article shocked me too yesterday. he just must be one of those people who still don't think of Gasol as a all-star PF.

Shaun Powell? Who?? Please. Go away inconsequential person. Your words have no meaning. They must have been written in some forgotten language.

I read that article and was going to post something about it, but theres no point now. I absolutely agree with everything you said. Last year Pau was arguably the best, second-best player in the league and we would not have won the championship with out him.

While I agree that Kobe really is otherworldly, I don't think the gap between he and Pau is any bigger than the one between, say, Jordan and Pippin.

No reason for me to go on a Pau campaign because I see that work already being done, but I'll throw my 2 cents in about why he was so incredible last year. Night in and night out he was, hands down, the most consistent player on the team, period (and I don't mean Sasha consistent, i.e. consistently bad). Once every 10 games or so Pau would have an off night, but compared to every single other player *including* #24, I think that was the highest rate of constant solid quality play.

Do you think if Pau has to hear the words "so after the Finals against Boston, they called you soft ..." one more time, he's going to go Hulk-style on the reporter? I really hope that finally dies down this year, even AFTER the trophy came home last year that question still popped up.

Too young to get respect, too stupid to rest in the summer, his time will come when he dumps Europe. Very poised and says all the right things, save for "I must play ball for my country."

You go, BK.

And Powell? C'mon man.

Ah well, at least Kobe knows better...

Yeah, I guess this sportswriter knows more than Popovich who practically begged the league to void the trade and wanted to create some Star Panel to review trades for the sake of the league's competitiveness.

The minute the Laker's got Gasol (finals year 1/2, championship year 1) experts weren't predicting just when they'd win a title, but how many. His skill, his length, his defense and a new combination of unselfishness with an improved competitiveness make him the best #2 man in the league easily. He's a dominant Center and PF, and when Bynum gets going again the Lakers are going to be a steam roller.

Unlike the Cavs, the Lakers played team offense and defense during the playoffs... and won as a result.

Any mythology of the Lakers being a one-man team during the 2009 Championship season is just that: A Myth.

Did Kobe play phenomenally? Absolutely. But I was most impressed by his (and Derek Fisher's) leadership than anything else.

Every Laker deserves to wear that Championship ring (except Morrison and Yue) because every Laker truly contributed to this Championship.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

I personally cannot wait until Artest is asked a question about his teammates toughness/softness....and especially about Pau....i know that RonRon will come up with some kind of awesome story to show how not soft Pau is (like Pau put a table leg thru the waiter who messed up the order on his tapas....or to any big man in the NBA, take your pic)

.......also, i am cool with Farmar changing his # to 1......that means i can change my character in NBA 2K9 to wear #5 like i want.....i was prev#31 in honor of Clark Kent....

we should get a poll going on that....: if you were on the Lakers and you got to have your #, what # would you pick....and you cannot use retired or soon to be retired #s (24...34...and 21...yes, i do believe that Coop should have his # retired...and it will in time)

it's hard to believe that Pau is as good as he is, but after watching a few games, it's undeniable.

Farmar changed his number to 1.

He is really turning into Smush Parker.

Jordan Farmar = Smush Parker.

I don't agree with Powells remarks with regard to Pau. You only have to think back a few years to remember what the Lakers were like without the exceptionally talented Spaniard - remember the excrutiating playoff series with the Suns!

Yes, Kobe is the star of the show but you cannot say that Pau Gasol is not a "megastar" team mate. I think that by the time Pau Gasol retires from the NBA he will have at least 4 rings and will be included in discussions concerning the greatest Lakers of all time!

You know with the speed of these threads im starting to get excited....


Posted by: Thirty2 | September 09, 2009 at 07:09 PM

I hear you brother. It's a sign. The absolute deeepest, darkest corner of the sportsless universe is finally been traversed, the camp is in view, the weather's clearing and once football starts it's an easy glide into the NBA preseason. But we're not there yet. There’s always a spoil at the end of a great journey that gives a little character to the journey’s penelutimate moment--a slow march at the end, like the final dances of death in Carnival of Souls, The Seventh Seal and Deliverance.


Don’t be surprised if this takes longer than it looks.


Wes


Every Laker deserves to wear that Championship ring (except Morrison and Yue) because every Laker truly contributed to this Championship.

Posted by: Jon K.

Even Sasha?

Any chance that this Shaun Powell character moonlights as a Lakers Blog poster by the name of Troy during the regular season?

Great post BK. The reason Pau is so often disrespected is that most of today's viewers do not understand the game of basketball. Gasol doesn't fit the stereotype of the otherwordly athletic talent who can jump through the roof or demolish defenders like tenpins at a bowling alley. He is the perfect complement to KB and the perfect player for PJ and his system. This Laker team will win several O'Briens and in the future looking back will not be known as the Kobe/Phil team but as the Kobe/Phil/Pau team.

I've never appreciated the banter that plaugues the NBA about individual players and how their skills measure up to one anothers. The fact is Gasol coming to the Lakers was the single most important thing to happen to this franchise since Shaq was kicked out. The only thing that will matter in the end is whether they can continue to play basketball as a cohesive unit and not the LBJ vs. Kobe chatter. I do think that if this squad gels as it should then they can quite possibly be the best squad we've seen in some time (can you say best ever? fingers crossed!) Go Lakers!

BK,

I'd say the lakers most resemble the spurs in their makeup. In the sense that you have a megastar (duncan/kobe) sorrounded with a couple of borderline all-stars (tony/manu& pau/odom). The difference of course being that our megastar is in a stratosphere all by himself though I wouldn't get into an argument if someone tried to toss duncan/lebron/wade/kg in there as well.

As for Pau specifically, he made only 1 all-star team prior to coming to the lakers (I think) but I fully expect him to be a regular for as long as he plays with mamba. That to me says he's no ray allen or paul pierce in terms of all-star status (i.e. those 2 could make it there regularly on any team in the nba, outside of them getting old) but he's definately in manu/tony stratosphere.

I wouldn't trade Pau for any center/pf in the league right now. Not cause there aren't better options but cuz he's a great fit for the lakers. If he keeps doing what he does, he'll eventually get his due. His status will grow in the eyes of the public and everyone will start calling him a bonafide #2 and rank him high up there. I mean all you need as proof of that is the very article you quoted, the guy lists tony as a bonafide #2. There was a time when nobody was sure Tony would remain a starter in San Antonio (potentially replaced by jason kidd).

Bottom line I don't agree with the Author. I think Pau more than proved he's a very capable #2 as evidenced by the fact we went to the finals/won it all last year. At the same time when your franchise tosses 14-16m at a player in a similar position, i.e. Bynum, and pines about possibly not winning the championship without him, you can't go ballistic when the public expresses some skepticism as well. Give it time and Pau will be a super #2, just as kobe will continue to build a case/resume for g.o.a.t. status.

lakerlee

"So he thinks Ray Allen is more big time than Pau? Sure Allen is good and all but please, anyone would say Pau is currently a better and more important player than Allen... "

I'd have to disagree over this. Ray Allen was the man in seatle and he held it down better than Pau did in memphis in my humble opinion. Sometimes it's easy to look at stats and go hey this guy makes 7/11 shots per game, if you give him 22 shots he'd really be something else. But it might just not be in that guy's psyche to go get the ball and jackup those 11 extra shots. So it works out nice in theory but not very well in practice. With 3 seconds left on the clock and up 2 against seatle, you'd be searching for Ray Allen on your teletube back in the day and praying he doesn't drive a dagger through your heart.

Now if you're arguing that Pau is younger and is of more value to the lakers than allen is to boston, then yup I'll give you that. But let's not be quick to dismiss what Ray Allen has done for the game of basketball. If I'm think 3point shooters, I'm thinking Reggie Miller & Ray Allen are probably the first 2 names out of my mouth.

And oh I'm fining myself for defending a celtic ... yuk yuk yuk

lakersrepeat,

"But Pau > Scottie
Not to belittle Kobe or Scottie, but that's just the way I see it."

OMG ... dude pippen at his prime ranks as one of the best small forwards this league has ever seen. Defensively the guy was a monster. WoW.

LG
"Last year Pau was arguably the best, second-best player in the league and we would not have won the championship with out him."

The celtics might be able to putup an argument, denver's got a case too, but at 65 regular season wins and a championship my money says they'd lose that argument.

Jon K.

"Any mythology of the Lakers being a one-man team during the 2009 Championship season is just that: A Myth."

Is there such a thing as a 1-man team in the nba?

BK

This Powell writer is very precise and correct in his analysis. Those who disagree simply underestimate the greatness of Kobe Bryant. Before Gasol joined Bryant he wasn't even considered an All- NBA player......he was considered a good player but certainly NOT a great player.

BK, Powell and Rick Barry both said what I've been saying for years.......Gasol is the beneficiary of playing opposite Kobe. If teams focused on stopping Gasol he wouldn't be nearly as effective but teams can't focus on Gasol because of the greatness of Kobe Bryant. A true superstar can produce game after game despite the opposing team's focused plan to stop them. Can you honestly place Gasol in that category.

The reason Gasol averaged "only" 12.9 shots a night is because that is about all the shots he could muster. There are many times when the ball is thrown into Gasol but he can't get a shot off against set defenses.......His shots normally come from the defense as it rotates from it's coverage on Kobe. That's not a bad thing but let's not get it twisted......Kobe causes all of that.

What Rick Barry left out about the selfish perception applied to Kobe was Phil Jackson's role in fomenting this perception every chance he got in post conferences to silly reporters who simply have never played or just do not understand nuances of the game. (Any resemblance to you is completely coincidental LOL)

Whenever Kobe is placed in a proper light by knowing professionals such as Rick Barry the guilty instantly feel a need to defend the idea that "it's not all Kobe"

When in fact nobody said it was all Kobe nor is it dissing Gasol........It is what it is.........Is there anybody on the Lakers with the exception of Kobe that is a Hall of Famer or for that matter a Superstar from last years squad?

Can anyone honestly say Gasol "right now" is a hall of famer?


Gasol is a very good player but he is not on the Superstar level..........which is a testament to Kobe's greatness that he "made everyone around him elevate their game" ............I know it hurts Kobe-haters but give Kobe credit.


There are those out there who simply do not want to give Kobe his day.....many in the media......for whatever reasons. So instead of writing about "now" and Kobe's greatness you will see more stories about Kobe's "high mileage" or Kobe's "decline" all of this right after Kobe just won Finals MVP

Instead of seeing stories about Kobe challenging Jordan's legacy and his 6 rings you will find more stories that anticipate Kobe losing a step.

This is all because subconsciously those writers wish for the day when they don't have to recognize Kobe's reign.

But they forget one important thing..............at the end of the day YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME!

This is absurd...Gasol is a "big-time" talent!

When he gets the ball in the paint, it`s almost an automatic two points.

He`s come a long way since KG abused him in June, `08, and he wasn`t exactly bad then, either.

Powell is crazy. Pau Gasol is a top caliber player in this league. If Pau continues his good play this year, he will pass Tim Duncan as the best PF in the league.

Pau: You are a beast and all Lakers fans love what you bring to the Lakers!!!

This is truly an excellent piece of writing, and it just tells everything I do think too of Pau. I'm all for him, and last season just proved all necessary points about Gasol. To be a fantastically effective player doesn't request necessarily a flamboyant personality. It request skill, brain, and dedication. He's got all. I'm so happy he's a Laker. I wouldn't like him play against us at any rate. LeBron could advantage from someone like him. Too bad he will never get it.
(So excited the new season is approaching!!! Can't wait to read all of your posts :) Cheers from Italy :))

Basketball is a combination of physical, speed, athleticism and BBIQ. Pau may lack the physicality of "anglo machismo" but his basketball intelligence could outwit a strong player like K-mart, Dwight or Kwame and at the end of game will yield the same or better results in the score box. You can see from his game that he grew up with the game itself especially in his role as a Center. The difference between Pau and other forwards in the league is that he could post up, uses his height and knows how to read plays outfoxing his guards. Other centers like Oden, Kwame, Chandler, Dwight and we can include here Bynum just being honest about it, sometimes they couldn't catch the ball on the run or in the air, could not dribble the ball full court, could not execute a decent hook shot, could not do mid ranged shots, all they know is dunk, dunk, dunk, use their muscular build to push and shove. However, Basketball is not just pushing and shoving, there are certain moves done to outmaneuver the opponent executing it unexpectedly, flawlessly with right timing and speed. Pau could hit the floor several times in a game, appear to be soft as being out rebounded and dunked at by flashy PF's and Centers, yet in the span of 48 minutes, Gasol would recover and make his own score, managed his fouls and get timely rebounds and follow-ups. He becomes a game changer when it matters. That is what we lacked during the era of the scrubs.

Dear Mr. Powell,

Please watch the last 5 minutes or so of the Christmas day matched up with the Celtics from this past season. Pau Gasol single handedly stepped up, handled the immense presuure, and sealed that game for the Lakers.

I could continue with many more examples of times when Pau stepped up, handled the pressure, and executed. I pick this particular one somewhat early in the season to illustrate the fact that Pau was one of the best players in the league not just here and there. But for pretty much the entire season.

Now take your little comment back weenie boy!!!

Sincerely,

Magicman

Taliq-

I think the Spurs comparison is pretty good. The question isn't whether Pau is a Pippen-esque Among the Greatest of All Time player (he's not, as you point out) but if that's the standard "secondary" players have to be held to, then the league has almost none of them. As for Ray Allen, I'd say that Pau is a more impactful player at this point in their respective careers than Allen, and I'm an Allen fan. Will he have a better overall career? Who knows, but it's also not really material to the argument. It's about who's better now, and I'd say Pau by a longshot.

Big picture, what I'm really getting at is that it's very easy to argue that Gasol was a top 15 player in the NBA last year. Perhaps top 10, in terms of overall productivity and effectiveness while on the floor. He was that good. And if being among the 10, 15, 20 players in the NBA isn't "big time," than it's an unfair standard. I agree with you that trying to find another big that fits so well with the system and how they play and can do so at the same level of efficiency as Gasol would be damn near impossible.

Edwin Gueco-

I truly hesitate to ask... but what is "anglo machismo?"

pfunk-

Of course. If there was any way to get you out of your summer hibernation it was to fire up your RSS feed hyper-tuned to "perceived Kobe slights." You're basically the type of person I speak of when I talk about those who look at greatness as a zero sum game, particularly with Kobe. Gasol being a top shelf player does nothing at all to diminish Kobe's accomplishments on the floor. Of course Pau benefits from playing with 24-- all good players benefit from playing with other good players. But Kobe benefits from Gasol's presence as well, particularly as it relates to fun things like advancing in the playoffs and winning titles.

Pippen's place in basketball history doesn't diminish Jordan's, KG's title isn't going to be lessened because he played will Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. This is no different. Is Kobe the center of it? Of course. The point isn't that Gasol is better than Kobe but that he is, based on his own performance and production, among the best players in the league. All of that can happen while Kobe is in the discussion for basketball's Mount Rushmore. It's okay.

By any reasonable standard, Gasol was enormously effective last year. You believe all he can muster is 13 shots a game. I think he doesn't get the ball enough, or he could do much more. I guess we just don't agree. But as in most things, you see anything that offers praise to another player (be it LeBron, Pau, or whomever) as a cut against your guy. Thus the need to make sure Gasol has "his place." I don't accept the foundation of where you're coming from on this, so the rest we won't agree on either.

The rest- media conspiracy, Phil conspiracy, etc.- is all well worn from you.

BK

It's also worth noting that if you look at Pau's career and the numbers he's put up, given his age and the things he might still accomplish, the idea that he'd be thought of as among the better bigs of this or any other generation isn't all that bizarre.

BK

lakersrepeat,

kobe will never be better than mj no matter how many wrings he wins. maybe at this stage meaning starting from this year coming up if he shoots 48% + and wins another finals mvp by leading the team in scoring it will help him look better when compared to mike at 31. But mj at 31 was so much more better, kobe is kind of playing like mj at 35 when mj came back to play in the nba. kobes game last year at 30 was more close to mike at 35. even in his late 30's mj was shooting 49 and 48 when his years with the bulls in 95-97. why cant kobe even shoot his whole career never can go over 48 or even over 47% or even get to 47%. but kobe is great the best now and top 10 better than shaq better than tim duncan and jerry west,dr.j,maybe better than oscar but he will also never pass majic in many peoples eyes.

im just bringing this up because its mj in the hall of fame on friday. and nba tv is showing mj all day.

Maybe Shaun Powell is trying to become the next Mel Kiper of the NBA!!

Taliq,

How can you not put Larry Bird in the 3pt shooter list?? I would also add Dan Majerle, but that's just me.

"By any reasonable standard, Gasol was enormously effective last year. You believe all he can muster is 13 shots a game. I think he doesn't get the ball enough, or he could do much more. I guess we just don't agree. But as in most things, you see anything that offers praise to another player (be it LeBron, Pau, or whomever) as a cut against your guy. Thus the need to make sure Gasol has "his place." I don't accept the foundation of where you're coming from on this, so the rest we won't agree on either.

The rest- media conspiracy, Phil conspiracy, etc.- is all well worn from you."

Agreed. Fans of other teams think of the same way BK. Chicago fans would pull their hair outs if people were praising Pippen. The same way we feel about Wilt sometimes and that "he had no all-star players" when he had Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and yet still lost to the Celtics.

Kobe is great but even a great one needs a sidekick. Even Magic missed that in the 1991 Finals where he put up fantastic production despite being guarded by Jordan and Pippen yet lost the series despite getting home court advantage in winning Game 1. Pau has been a great player and he stepped up his game. Is he as valauble as Kobe certainly not but he has proved his worth more than enough times and did all the dirty work and all the things the aren't seen by fans because we tend to like flash over substance sometimes.

In fact Pau has been a great supporting player and has done a better job putting consistent statistical production along being Kobe's sidekick. Many of those fans are most likely the same fans that will get insulted if any mention that Kobe needed Pau to win (which is true for since he never won without Pau as 2nd fiddle). Many of them are so dismissive of Pau yet are in Bynum's camp where they belittle Pau's contribution so much. In my opinion take out Kobe and Pau and let Bynum be the man and this team would be in the lottery imo. Kobe and Pau led their teams to at least the playoffs. We already know that Kobe did yet people forget Pau did the same thing in getting to the 1st round with Memphis a team that is in lottery almost everytime.

Kobe is great but even he needs help. We complain of "having Smush/Kwamay/Cook" yet when he gets bonafide help in Gasol most people diminish Pau as being good only because of Kobe. Those people are just plain foolish and dumb to think of that way.

"kobe will never be better than mj no matter how many wrings he wins. maybe at this stage meaning starting from this year coming up if he shoots 48% + and wins another finals mvp by leading the team in scoring it will help him look better when compared to mike at 31. But mj at 31 was so much more better, kobe is kind of playing like mj at 35 when mj came back to play in the nba. kobes game last year at 30 was more close to mike at 35. even in his late 30's mj was shooting 49 and 48 when his years with the bulls in 95-97. why cant kobe even shoot his whole career never can go over 48 or even over 47% or even get to 47%. but kobe is great the best now and top 10 better than shaq better than tim duncan and jerry west,dr.j,maybe better than oscar but he will also never pass majic in many peoples eyes."

Agreed with the FG% Omega. Kobe hasn't even shotten over 47% while Wade and Lebron has done it quite a few times already. In my opinion Kobe uses skill more rather than straight up athleticism to score and that's why his shot is deadlier than Lebron's or Wade's which will serve him well in the long shot since his body won't go breaking down as severely as Wade's or Lebron's will when they enter their mid 30's. In fact Kobe I think is more skilled than Michael but Michael was insanely athletic which allowed him to drive more along with the jumpshot that Wade/Lebron doesn't have hence why he got over 50% quite a few times. As for Kobe when it comes to my all time rankings list:

Kobe for me needs to win 4 Finals MVP that means 3 more rings and winning the Finals to be mentioned along Michael. 6 rings may tie him but Kareem won 6 rings yet nobody mentions him as being greater than MJ (though i rank him below the top 3 of my list). Plus Kobe needs to win at least 2 more regular season MVP's to get at least 3 which is still possible actually. If Kobe does that here's my rankings

5 rings 2 Finals MVP's-Surprasses Shaq and Duncan (if those two don't win anymore rings) and ties with Olajuwon in all time rankings
6 rings 3 Finals MVP's-Suprasses Olajuwon and ties with Magic Johnson and Larry Legend
7 rings 4 Finals MVP's- Surprasses Magic and Bird and ties with Kareem and gets consideration in top 3.
8+ rings- (Enters top 3 of all time and throws either Wilt/Russell/Jordan out).

Segeboy,

"Is there such a thing as a 1-man team in the nba?"

No, there is not, but the "1-man team" does exist in the minds of the media, the marketing juggernaut, and LeBroniacs.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Magia32,

Yes, Sasha deserves his ring. He played well below his capabilities, but he still contributed, particularly earlier in the playoffs.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Powell not only did not give Pau Gasol sufficient respect, where's the mention of Lamar Odom?

Lamar Odom was HUGE in this year's playoffs and Finals. We couldn't have won this ring without him.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

omega,

"kobe will never be better than mj no matter how many wrings he wins."

We're going to have to agree to disagree on that one. Remember, Kobe has four rings AND FIVE TO TEN YEARS OF PLAYING TIME AHEAD OF HIM, while Michael Jordan is now a museum piece.

I find SOME validity in the analysis of the quality of former players [Who was better? Chamberlain or Russell? Magic or Bird?], but comparing former players to players who have not completed their career or comparing players who have not completed their careers IN THE ABSOLUTE, is just foolhardy.

Michael Jordan was one of the best players ever and I toast his entry into the Hall of Fame, but Kobe's career is nowhere near completed. There's a lot of story left to tell. Let's enjoy it being told before we guess what the ending is.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

omega,

"Remember, Kobe has four rings AND FIVE TO TEN YEARS OF PLAYING TIME AHEAD OF HIM, while Michael Jordan is now a museum piece."

Keep in mind, it is POSSIBLE that Kobe could retire with five to ten rings. That's a lot of fricken Championships.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

pfunk36:

Your statement on "Can you tell me if Pau is a HOF"

- The author has mentioned Duncan/Tony Parker, Pierce/KG/Ray Allen.

- If you agree with the author, then do you mean Tony Parker or Ray Allen/Paul Pierce are HOFs right now?? KG and Duncan are sure HOFs. I sincerely doubt Pierce/Allen or Tony Parker making that list.

- So, if you say one has to be a HOF to be considered as the 2nd best, then neither could Parker or Ray Allen be considered as worthy sidekicks like Pippen.

Who's this guy Shaun Powell?? Does he even get paid to write such crap, or does he pay them to publish his "writings"??

If not the best, then Pau is definitely in the Top-3 among the active PFs (Duncan, Garnett, Gasol), in the order you like. Pau is the #2 reason why the Lakers won the championship (well, #24 is the #1 reason, I hope ;-) )

Pau was the #1 man for a team for 7 years, where he had all sorts of records, and he comes to another team as a #2 option, and Shaun is telling he is not the best complement to Kobe?? Pau has tremendous IQ and passing skills and Kobe-Pau can even better Pippen, if they stay and play well.

Among the #2 options among all teams, Pau is the best. Nuff said.

What's up, Lakerville!
Just saw this today...
"The Memphis Grizzlies have withdrawn their qualifying offer to guard Juan Carlos Navarro(notes), making him an unrestricted free agent."

I think he might be a good pick-up if the Lakers can get him cheap. He looks like he could be a good fit in the triangle. He could push Farmar and Brown to be better or expose them as non-PG of the future material. Some have already pegged Farmar as a non-starter for the rest of his career but he's young and I'm giving him this year to prove his worth. Comments anyone?

KB Blitz,

"5 rings 2 Finals MVP's-Surprasses Shaq and Duncan (if those two don't win anymore rings) and ties with Olajuwon in all time rankings
6 rings 3 Finals MVP's-Suprasses Olajuwon and ties with Magic Johnson and Larry Legend
7 rings 4 Finals MVP's- Surprasses Magic and Bird and ties with Kareem and gets consideration in top 3.
8+ rings- (Enters top 3 of all time and throws either Wilt/Russell/Jordan out)."

A pretty darned good, if imperfect, analysis.

Let me ask you a question, let's put aside our lakerholicism for a moment and TRY to be objective: "How many rings do you think Kobe will retire with?"

For me the answer to that question all depends on the development of Andrew Bynum and (to a lesser extent) further acquisitions. I mean, I'm assuming that Kobe retires at the age of 39 or 40. That's a lot of years.

However, even if Andrew does not develop, I'm thinking that a Kobe/Gasol/Odom/Artest line-up is a favorite for at least two more Championships.

So...

No significant Andrew Bynum development:

Six to seven rings.

SIGNIFICANT Andrew Bynum development:

Nine to ten rings.

"Objective" mildly-Lakerholic conclusion:

Seven to eight rings.

That's a lot of fricken Championships.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!! (RINGS!!!)

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Good Morning Everyone....

Wes...Nice little piece of writing there man..I liked it..

For me this time of the year is the best..I just ordered NBA 2k10.I just bought a new Slim PS3...And i start training for the cycling season ahead..

Lance Armstrong arrives in January for the tour down under and this city goes crazy with cyclists all over the shop...I love it....PLUS....Its spring over here and that means that all this frikken rain we have had is about to stop....

As for this sport i love most..i cant wait..Training camp,Media day and then the ring ceremony and the Clippers getting crunched straight after it.(sorry Jon k).....Imagine being a Kings fan?...Ouch..

My prediction list is starting to take shape..

1..The Lakers will defeat the Bobcats twice this season..
2..The Lakers will make a trade by the deadline..
3..By the all-star game Derrick Fisher will be playing from the bench and not starting...(i love the guy and that hurt to type)...

Jordan can't win without Pippen. ;)

What's up party people?

So - I've been as sick as a dog since right before the long week-end and haven't been feeling lucid enough to post. I know - that shouldn't have stopped me since it never has before, but you know....!

Lot's of good stuff going on. I agree - this Powell person (or more likely TROLL) is out of his lunatic mind. Without Pau we don't win so how can you argue that he's not a legit # 2 guy? Crazy... And yet another MJ debate - ick. MJ was great - happy he's going to the Hall - but to stick with "greatest ever" and "no way Kobe's better or will ever be better" - come on. Our Mamba has a lot left in the tank and before it's all said and done the haters will have to recognize that Kobe Bean Bryant deserves Stratospheric Status on the hardwood.

Get excited - preseason starts October 7th!!!!

BK: Exactly right.

You know my favorite thing about this Shaun Powell of whom you speak? He does NOT advise the Lakers. Come to think of think of it, can we hire him and, like a sleeper cell, implant him on the Cavs or Celts staff?

---I think most of the media gives Gasol his due. The people that undervalue Gasol remember him from Memphis, where he was winless in the playoffs (0 for 8) as the #1 option. He continually underperformed with the pressure on. When Gasol was on the trading block, teams wanted to trade for him, but were not willing to give up big time talent (even Chicago, who was desperate for a big man did not want to give up Deng for Pau). He was considered a borderline all-star back than. Once he became the #2 option to Kobe, his game (and his exposure) improved (similar to Lamar becoming the #3 option). He started working out in the weight room and became tougher physically and mentally. The writer, Powell, is giving all the credit to Kobe for Gasol's improvement of the past two years, but at the same time, he is underestimating how great Gasol has become.

Let's not forget that Kobe made Smush, Cook, Kwame and Luke look like real NBA players. We all saw what happened to these clowns once they left the Lakers. We also saw bench players like Ariza and Brown drastically improve playing with Kobe. Gasol is a GREAT #2 option but most of the posters here seem to be underestimating the impact a Kobe Bryant has on his teammates.

---Whoever said Gasol is better than Pippen did not watch the Bulls when Jordan first retired. Pippen, as the #1 option, was one play away from the Eastern Conf Finals WITHOUT Jordan, while Pau is winless as the #1 option. People always forget that Pippen was a BETTER defensive player than even Jordan.

---You cannot compare players of different generations based on FG%. If you look at the stats, SGs shot had at a higher FG% in the 80's, despite the absence of the hand check rule. One of the main reasons Kobe has a lower FG% compared to Jordan (or Wade or Lebron) is because he shoots much more 3 pointers. Points per shot attempt is a much better indicator. Also, before the zone rule, the game was more physical on the perimeter. It was more difficult to get by the initial defender back than. In today's game, it is easier to get by the initial defender, but once you get past him, it is MUCH more difficult to score or create plays. Teams can send double teams much earlier, and in a variety of ways. Although Kobe does not have to deal with the hand checks, like Jordan, he has the deal with the evolved and more complex defensive schemes. If Jordan were in a last minute situation in today's game, he would not have nearly as many clutch game winners because the double team would come before he even touched the ball.

No fellas I disagree, I think everyone does respect Pau Gasol. We may now refer to Pippen as top 50 or Rodman as one of the best rebounders of all time. But the truth is, it was never the dynamic duo or trio when it came to Jordan and his teammates. It was Jordan and crew and if you hear similarities with the Kobe show, really its always been about the superstar.

And rewind back to when Gasol got traded to the Lakers, remember the backlash. People like Greg Pop were complaining its not fair, its cheating, haterz were almost in tears at that point. No, they know who Pau Gasol is and what he brings to the table. No one denies that he's an outstanding second fiddle. They just deny that he's a true superstar, one in the Kobe, MJ, Magic group. Truth is he may be, but only time will tell.

And lets be honest, the competition that Gasol is in to be included in that group is who: Kareem, Russell, Wilt? Sheesh, pretty tough competition to be included in the all time greats superstar category. I don't think he wants to compared to those guys, just like Kobe hates the MJvsKobe thing. Gasol just wants to win, thats it. He doesn't demand the ball, he doesn't complain EVER, he used to lose year after year and now he sees a great opportunity ahead of him. If Gasol wins 3 or 4 rings and he's the 2nd leading contributor during that run then ENUF SAID.

Cupertino,

Are you serious? Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Tony Parker are Hall of Fame players.

You know I find it strange that very few people even Lakers fan don't get what the author is saying. Dude is simply saying the rip on Kobe has been that he couldn't win without a second megastar as a teammate and with the Lakers winning this championship he proved those who believed this wrong.

It's not about Pau Gasol not being a good player he is. But he is not a megastar player. And his playing with Kobe did increase his intensity and his ability to rise to the occasion. But even this is besides the point.

This article is strictly about the Kobe critics saying Kobe couldn't win without another megastar and he did (Gasol is not a megastar). It's not saying Kobe won it alone, or Kobe didn't have help or need help it's strictly dealing with the false claim of some who said Kobe would never win another 'ship without a second megastar, like Shaq in his prime or KG or Wade.

Most on the blog are quick to say the Lakers couldn't have won without Lamar, Pau, Fish, Trevor, etc. And since no one here seems to say it much, the Lakers couldn't have won without Kobe period.

We needed everybody to win it!

Geesh!

Here's a little dig at the "Michael Jordan is the Greatest ever!" dogma:

Michael Jordan THREE TIMES. THREE TIMES!

What the hell? Try to imagine Kobe Bryant retiring unnecessarily two times. Yeah, right! That's not going to happen. He loves the game too much.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

i'm okay with Pau not getting the respect he deserves, it will constantly give him that desire to prove someting (Kobe has that too) and until he does get that respect i'll enjoy watching the two of them continue to win champioships.

MJ vs Kobe. Hmmm...I am a huge Laker fan and was never a big MJ guy although I respect his game and talents...but I have to agree that I don't think anyone will ever touch MJ as the best ever. Its not even just the stats or the high flying its how he changed the game, the impact he had on the game here in the US and overseas. Guys like Kobe grew up watching MJ and wanting to be like him, you see many similarities in Kobes game to Mike. I think even if Kobe wins 6 rings or more I don't see him surpassing MJ. Kobe is already a top 10 greatest player and may move up to #3 or 4 before it is all done but I don't see him surpassing MJ or Bill Russell because no one will ever win 11 championships in 13 years. That is just sick. Right now I would say Kobe doesn't even pass Laker greats Magic or Kareem on the all-time list but he may surpass them before it is over. If you need reminders on how great MJ was watch "Come Fly with Me" and you will be reminded.

SamLL,

I don't know a darned thing about Juan Carlos Navarro.

Intrigue me.

Do you think he'd be a better fit than Tony Gaffey serving a "poor man's Trevor Ariza" role?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Who is Shaun Powell?

Who cares really. I don't know his definition of "mega-star" is, but the use of the term just implies his shallowness of perception. We are talking about basketball: skills, productivity, team play, results.

All stars, two back to back Finals appearance, one championship and more to follow.

I'll take him above almost all #2 players in the league. I would only trade him for a #1.

Geez, I hate idiots, but I really hate idiots with a byline.

I'm a big Pau fan, and I think a lot of that comes because what he does is flash-free. he just plays correctly. He's where he's supposed to be all the time and so he winds up getting what looks like easy shots. he's not a high-fly act, but he stretches the defense with that sweet jumper. and he doesn't overpower people physically, but particularly in the Orland series, he showed that finesse can play with power any time. in short, i think that anyone who doesn't appreciate what Pau is doing, isn't watching carefully enough (either that or would prefer the nba played 3-on-3 with a 12-second shot clock).

i would have to agree with him. pau is not a megastar. pau is just a star. not a megastar.

he was not shaq and kobe, i think that's what he meant.

lets be honest here. pau has elevated his game because of kobe. pau of course is a BIG part of the championship. but like i said, lets not confuse how things work.

Jon K,
Juan Carlos Navarro is the starting PG/SG of Spain. He scored 18 pts in the gold medal game vs. the US in the Olympics.

As a Grizzly, he was named to the All-Rookie 2nd Team. I would say that he is a traditional point guard who sets up the offense. Although his assists are low, he is a good shooter who averaged 10.9 ppg @ 25 mins. His averages are 2P%: 40.2%, 3P%: 36.1% & FT%: 84.9%. He also stand 6'3" and fits with PJ's specs of having big guards. He has been named MVP in the ACB and Euroleague at different times. He was drafted by the Wizards but didn't play for them. I think the Grizzlies traded for him specifically to keep Pau happy but when Pau was traded to the Lakers, he went back to Europe after the 2007-08 season.

I just looked and he signed with FC Barcelona for 5 yrs. 14 million euros so I don't know if the Lakers can even get him. It's just a thought. He's currently playing with the Spanish team in Eurobasket, where you can catch games on justin.tv if you're interested. He had 21 pts. vs. Slovenia on 9/9.

Juan Carlos Navarro is playing for FC Barcelona under a 5 year contract. He left Memphis last summer.

He's making about 5M a year, so I don't think we could pry him away from that contract even if there was a possbility to. We have too little to offer.

I like his game though....even though Ricky Rubio and Rudy Fernandez got the media all googlie eyed, he was the lead point guard for Spain in their silver medal. He's fairly crafty, had a good shot, etc.

FOR THOSE WONDERING…BYNUM IS “DOING WELL
By Janis Carr for the OC Register


http://tinyurl.com/nngku7


Good news on the Bynum front…


>>>


For all those inquiring minds….


Andrew Bynum is “doing well”, “feels great” and apparently did not hook up with Orlando’s Dwight Howard over the summer, according to his agent, David Lee. Bynum had mentioned during the NBA Finals that he might train with the Magic center.


Lee told me in a phone conversation Tuesday that Bynum has been working out in Atlanta all summer, where he has an established training base and the place he has migrated to during the off-season for the past several summers. That’s also why there has been no sightings (or stories) of the young Lakers center in and around L.A. the past three months.


“He’s doing great, he’s fine, there aren’t any problems,” Lee said. He was referring to Bynum’s troubled knees.


Lee said Bynum would be back in Southern California on Sept. 18, 11 days before the Lakers open training camp.

>>>


Tom

LAKER TRUTH:

- Ray Allen is nothing but the next coming of Reggie Miller. (Lanky SGs, good 3-pt and FT shooters) He is a very good player, not a "great" player, and I am sure you will agree as well. So, lets 1st see whether Reggie goes to HOF, and then think about Ray Ray.

- Following are the players who have been inducted into HOF since 2001:

Moses Malone.
Magic Johnson
Robert Parish
James Worthy
Clyde Drexler
Maurice Stokes
Charles Barkley
Joe Dumars
Adrian Dantley
Patrick Ewing
Hakeem Olajuwon
Michael Jordan
David Robinson
John Stockton

Can you convince yourself and tell Ray Allen / Tony /Paula Pierce belong to this list? You tell me.

And yeah, even Pippen (who most will agree is the best, 2nd-best man of all time) has not been nominated for HOF yet.

In the current active players list (who have played at least since 2001), I only see max 7 Hall of Famers. - Kobe Bryant, KG, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Shaqille O Neal, Jason Kidd. Unless Pierce, Parker or Ray Allen prove further a lot, they can't make it to this elite list.

I missed out Ben Wallace in the earlier list, when I said Max-7.

Basketball is a combination of physical, speed, athleticism and BBIQ. Pau may lack the physicality of "anglo machismo" but his basketball intelligence could outwit a strong player like K-mart, Dwight or Kwame and at the end of game will yield the same or better results in the score box. You can see from his game that he grew up with the game itself especially in his role as a Center. The difference between Pau and other forwards in the league is that he could post up, uses his height and knows how to read plays outfoxing his guards. Other centers like Oden, Kwame, Chandler, Dwight and we can include here Bynum just being honest about it, sometimes they couldn't catch the ball on the run or in the air, could not dribble the ball full court, could not execute a decent hook shot, could not do mid ranged shots, all they know is dunk, dunk, dunk, use their muscular build to push and shove. However, Basketball is not just pushing and shoving, there are certain moves done to outmaneuver the opponent executing it unexpectedly, flawlessly with right timing and speed. Pau could hit the floor several times in a game, appear to be soft as being out rebounded and dunked at by flashy PF's and Centers, yet in the span of 48 minutes, Gasol would recover and make his own score, managed his fouls and get timely rebounds and follow-ups. He becomes a game changer when it matters. That is what we lacked during the era of the scrubs.

Posted by: Edwin Gueco | September 10, 2009 at 09:48 AM
========================
Edwin my friend,

I need to correct you on Andrew Bynum. I have not seen him dribble full court but have seen him Dunk (his power game is best so lots of dunks) but look at making of beast again and see yes dunks but also baby hooks banks, 3-6 foot shots and dribble drive the lane at 3:41 of video and dunk. He has great hands for catching the ball. Just had to give my opinion on this.

http://tinyurl.com/pk4kuk

lakofan-

Whether Pau is simply a "star" or a "megastar" is really an issue of semantics. My point is that his metrics and production place him favorably with those other "big timers" Powell says Pau isn't. Not Pippen, perhaps, but in line with Parker and Pierce when they won titles and clearly among the best bigs in the league. Of course playing with Kobe helps him, but it's not like Gasol rolled into LA and suddenly got good.

Again, it seems like you and a few others feel like acknowledging how good a season Pau had somehow diminishes Kobe's greatness. I don't get it. Does Kobe's supporting cast have to be inferior in order for his fourth title to have depth and meaning?

BK

pfunk32
"If teams focused on stopping Gasol he wouldn't be nearly as effective but teams can't focus on Gasol because of the greatness of Kobe Bryant. A true superstar can produce game after game despite the opposing team's focused plan to stop them. Can you honestly place Gasol in that category."

In Memphis he was the teams focal point and he was generally surrounded by NBA cast offs or young, decent guys who would become role players on other teams (He played with Stromile Swift, James Posey, Shane Battier, Earl Watson, Jason Williams and Bo Outlaw to name a few). He helped Memphis to records decent enought to get them into the Playoffs, but those Grizzly teams were always short on veterans who'd won anything, good coaches (Hubie Brown was just too old to get guys like a young Posey to play the right way, too much disconnect) and so they never won a single playoff game. That was all put on Gasol, even though he brought it night and night out.

Don't believe me? Check out how much Pau done brung it in memphis here: http://tiny.cc/Nx1Ia

One season where he shoots under 50%. One. He averages over 17pts/game every year and he's a consistent double-digit rebounder. This on a team of, at the time, unproven talented players. Guys like James Posey, Earl Watson, Stromile Swift, Jason Williams and Shane battier would all go on and become statistically better players. But in Memphis they had yet to become dependable in any area. His stats do bump up a bit more in LA, but not so much so that I can fathom an argument that is based on the idea that somehow Kobe suddenly made Gasol better. If anything, the opposite is true. Kobe's stats, especially ones concerned with effeciency, get a little bump with Gasol and his minutes are down too.

Now, I'm not trying to say that Gasol makes Kobe better player (more effeciant, yes), I do believe that having a player like Kobe who is a threat on multiple levels (either with his outside shooting, slashing to the rim or dishing off the drive) makes the game easier for the guys playing with him (see trevor Ariza), but to say that he makes Gasol much better than he was without him is basically a fallacy. As well, Gasol has had the defensive kitchen sink thrown at him in Memphis and can understand where Kobe comes from when he walks the ball past the 1/2 court line and basically dumps in to the post and says, "Go to work Big Fellah". It gets tiring being the sole focus of every defensive scheme.

That's why when we got Gasol Kobe was the number one super fan of the deal. He knew he had a player comparable to him in focus for the opposing team. You couldn't load up the weak side and throw two to three defenders at Kobe anymore because that leaves less than a man on Gasol. Do that for 48 minutes and there are only two words that can describe the outcome: Game Over or, if you prefer, Lakers Win.

I get where you're coming from, and for the most part agree with you that Kobe is in the habit of making the team better. But, that hasn't been his career long focus and you may notice that we started going back to the NBA Finals when we got Gasol as opposed to the many years prior where we all had to get into baseball early than we wanted to.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING…


It’s good to see things start to liven up around here as the long boring summer departs and the allure of training camp beckons. Lakers passion is starting to leak out as we flex our virtual muscles in our own informal version of training camp, parsing whether the article was praising Kobe or dissing Pau. To me, the author was really trying to praise Kobe, probably in a deliberate play for the huge number of die-hard Lakers fans out there, but ended up dissing Pau with his unfavorable comparison to Scotty and other superstar sidekicks. I can see where he was going with Kobe because the guy is so far above everybody else that he doesn’t need a sidekick who is a superstar. Sometimes, the chemistry is better without a second superstar. The comments that Pau is a star but not a mega or superstar are also accurate. While he does not have the personal drive or demeanor needed to be a franchise player, Pau has proven beyond a doubt that he can be a force as the #2 or #3 option on a team. There is no doubt in my mind that right now he is the best power forward in the league bar none. And that does not even count him importance as the Lakers backup center. He is just not a #1 guy but few are.


Truth be told, how many real #1 guys are there out there? How many true franchise players? Kobe, LeBron, Wade, and Dwight make the grade for me. KG, Duncan, and Yao are past their prime and on the way down now. You can water down the term and call Melo, Tracy, Hedo, and a bunch of other no-better-than-second-fiddle players superstars but they really aren’t. They need a lot more help than Kobe or LeBron would need to get the team to the championship. They are fools gold, #2’s and #’s with brilliant disguises. Guys like KG and Pau who could never carry their previous franchises to championships are lucky to have landed in situations where they’re playing with other great players because neither guy showed he could be the #1 player and both at times were very passive about the importance of winning championships. It truly did take Kobe to make Pau a winner, just like it took Paul and Ray to make KG a winner. Kobe, LeBron, and Wade are centerpieces that are irreplaceable. They can single handedly win games for you with a level of play that only an elite few can deliver. Players like Pau, Lamar, Ray, Paul, Tracy, Agent Zero – they are to an extent interchangeable.


I have also never really bought the whole “you have to have a second superstar to win it all” theories. Basketball is a team game and you can’t say that two great players are better than a great player and two or three near-great players. In the end, it’s the team that plays the smartest and best that usually wins. Boston in my opinion is a team that did not have a mega star. KG has some outstanding casts in Minny and could never win a championship. Same with Pierce and Allen. Put them together though and you have a combination of talent and experience that enables them to play at a high level even thought they really don’t have a superstar like Kobe. In the end, it’s the matchups of the five guys who are on the floor for one team against the five guys for the other team. This is where the Lakers have a huge edge in talent, height, length, and depth. Very often, it’s the matchup with the fourth or fifth option on a team where the battles are won and victories sealed. For the Lakers, that means Ron Artest or Lamar Odom against the other team’s fourth or fifth option.


Tom

Really, Kobe has made every player on this team better, and he has for a long time. What was the lineup that almost defeated the Suns that one year? Smush, Kobe, Walton, Odom and Kwame? Kobe should have won an award for just taking that team to the playoffs.

But no. He was just too selfish.

Wes

First let me say that Pau definitely played like an All-Star in last year playoffs. However, prior to that he has not played like a "mega-star" in the playoffs. He didn't do it in the 08 playoffs. And I can't discount his 0-12 playoff record with Memphis when Pau only averaged 6 rebounds a game. Not exactly HOF type rebounding from your franchise player 7-footer.

So no he's not in same ballpark as Pierce/KG and certainly not Pippen...but in 09 he did provide TP/Manu worthy support. He still has some proving to do IMHO before he can truly be elevated to "Robin" status.

As far as HOF potential...Ray Ray is a lock...he'll be all-time 3pt made when he retires (until his ex-mate Rashard Lewis break his record). Pierce is a lock also. Pau will also be in the Hall if he can help the Lakers win at least another title and continue to post similar yearly numbers for another 6-7 years.

LRob

Laker Truth says (and very well): "When Gasol was on the trading block, teams wanted to trade for him, but were not willing to give up big time talent (even Chicago, who was desperate for a big man did not want to give up Deng for Pau). He was considered a borderline all-star back than. Once he became the #2 option to Kobe, his game (and his exposure) improved (similar to Lamar becoming the #3 option). He started working out in the weight room and became tougher physically and mentally. The writer, Powell, is giving all the credit to Kobe for Gasol's improvement of the past two years, but at the same time, he is underestimating how great Gasol has become.

Let's not forget that Kobe made Smush, Cook, Kwame and Luke look like real NBA players. We all saw what happened to these clowns once they left the Lakers. We also saw bench players like Ariza and Brown drastically improve playing with Kobe. Gasol is a GREAT #2 option but most of the posters here seem to be underestimating the impact a Kobe Bryant has on his teammates."

I agree. I think what's happeneing now is the media is having a love fest with Kobe and they want to give him some retroactive love. This is just a guy giving Kobe mad props for the ring, and it's OK, so long as Gasol doesn't go his entire Laker career with out any recognition.

Wes

Good Evening Charles...Good evening Everyone....

I have said it before and I will say it again (and probably for the next 5 years or so) there is not another power forward I would rather have on the Lakers than Pau Gasol..no one...I think he is the best in the game right now...

Pau is definitly our second super star, without question...

Viva Pau !!!

is it October yet? I can't stand it any more---even watching all the games I have on my DVR is past helping the jones I am dealing with right now...

AS ALWAYS, AS EVER, YET ANOTHER GREAT DAY (AND CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON) TO BE A LAKER FAN !!!

GO LAKERS !!!

Kobefan,
Pierce, Allen, Nash will all be in the HOF. Nowitzki, Carter, McGrady probably will be. Parker, Jermaine O'Neal, and Gasol have a good chance. If Artest continues to behave, and wins a title or two, he probably will be.

Pau should have been first-team All NBA last year. Duncan & Nowitzki were picked ahead of him on reputation, but Pau had the best year.

Who else in the NBA could defend all of the following: Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki & Yao? Not only defend, but keep his own scoring and rebounding averages up? Only Pau.

I think there are a lot of writers that have an opinion of Pau as soft based on the fact that he is a Euro and can exhibit bad body language from time to time. In fairness, on the few plays that Pau looks bad, he REALLY looks bad.

In the end, he is close to a 20-and-10 player who can defend a wide variety of 4s and 5s. Not many in the world can do that.

Two thoughts:

At what point does it become acceptable to mention MJ & Kobe in the same breath? It seems that MJ fans always have some way to knock Kobe, 'he did it with Shaq, he's never won without him' 'he plays selfishly,' 'he's not a team player,' etc... Fact is, this is Kobe's 4th title, and he still has at least 5-6 good years, and probably a few more after that, ahead of him. There is a real possiblity that Kobe, when all is said and done, surpasses MJ in points and titles, as well as lifts the Lakers single-handedly past the Celtics in championships won. At least thus far, Kobe is on a higher trajectory than 'His Airness' hopefully he starts to be recognized as the current-best, the best this decade and among the top-10 all-time so far, with more climbing left to be done.

Second thing, Pau definitely deserves accolades as not only the best power forward in the NBA, but probably the most well-rounded fundamentally sound player today. He is the 'anti-Kwame Brown' and is more than just far apart from the level of Kobe. In my opinion he fits his role exactly, is as smart a player as there is and never 'forces' plays when they aren't there for him. It seems that everything comes easily for Pau, he excels at it all but doesn't get the recognition he should. Perhaps when the Lakers win their next title or two those long-awaited props will finally come his way and people start realizing he is a player that can end up somewhere in the conversation of the all-time great power forwards...

I could not agree more. The fact that he didn't make at least second team all NBA last year was a travesty.

Laker Tom,

You are awesome.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

It's always a funny thing - who gets the credit.
It took a long time for Pippen to get the respect as being a genuine all star...Phil's role in the bulls dynasty looks a little different now to what it did in 1998.

Pippen through the bulls first championship run was an NBA third team kind of guy.So was Pau last year.He's not a top flight talent or all star every year.

He's in the top 20-30 players in the league but would never be in the top 10 -15 and he wan't a can't miss selection last year.

I guess when you look at the championship teams
on paper you realise that a lot of these guys get their reputations BECAUSE they have won multiple championships.Maybe Pau Gasol doesn't sit so well with such company now but multiple laker championships later it will.

Kobe/Shaq
Jordan,Pippen
Bird/ Mchale
Magic/ Kareem
Magic/Worthy
Thomas/Dumars
Duncan/ Ginobli Duncan/Parker
Pierce/Garnett

Two things - the guy is dead wrong in that Hakem Olajuwan had NOBODY else during the rockets first championship run Otis Thorpe was solidish (although not so solid they didnt trade him the next year) they basically had a strong defence and a bunch of streaky guards and hoped any one of them would get hot.

Secondly its not all about a decent second banana is it? Kobe has a talented team around him - it is indisputable.He's now got an all star big man and two other guys who are approaching all star calibre - possibly 3 if Bynum steps it up...

Its weird how people remember stuff...even the idea of Jordan being the only guy to do it without a dominant big man is wrong because Kareem was a role player by the 87,88 titles...

-Was Kobe really a clear number 2 guy in '01 &'02?

-Doing it with Kobe and Wade hasn't seemed to have cheapened Shaq's rings at all - should it?

-If Kobe hits seven rings will people really see him as being superior to Jordan? No way - people see the first three WERE cheapened (wrongly because of the type of role he played on those teams)

This stuff is fun to debate but in the end extremely unscientific...All that really matters is if you get there,if you can do it again and the extent to which you dominate an era.The doing more with less idea is a bad ride t get on.

Powell is dissing Gasol in order for his personal "take" on the Lakers to work. I recall when Jordan left the Bulls for his first retirement (mid-'90s), Scotty Pippen didn't exactly take over and dominate the league. Pippen was a second-banana to an all-time great -- just like Gasol is to Kobe. No shame in that.

"Anglo(American)-machismo", in my personal view, is the erroneus belief that only the (Anglo)American players (i.e. born in the U.S.A.) are really hard agonistic, and that the others (especially if born in South Europe) are fundamentally "soft"..
A lot of Serbian and Croatian NBA players (remember Drazen Petrovic?) has proven the opposite, and I remember several U.S.A. born players estremely soft (Vandeweghe, Daugherty, Aguirre...).

Marco64

Gene

Actually Pippen put together one of the best seasons in memory the first year Jordan was out...he was first team all NBA with crazy stats and assumed leadership of a team lacking in talent that won over 50 games and would have knocked out the knicks in the second round if it weren't for an awful call.That being the same knicks team that chicago had been so worried about getting past the previous year.

I take nothing away from Scottie Pippen at all...can't say enough about this guys game.

marco64,

Nice use of the word "agonistic". I had to look that one up and that's something that rarely happens.

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to argue with you in a fairly close-minded fashion right now. Feel free to tell me I'm full of crap:

Americans are tougher than Europeans, generally speaking. I've been all over Europe and Central America. With the exception of some Slavs (Russians, in particular) and some Celts (lower class Brits), Americans are just plain tougher and more competitive. Regarding "maschismo", I scoff at most countries that have a strong degree of "maschismo". Most are incompetent at warfare and I view their machismo as an over-compensation for their inability to manifest masculinity in a balanced and focused fashion, so they go over the top.

In my view, it is much like the guy who buys the huge, raised pick-up truck with the giant sound system to announce his presence to the world. If he's such a "man" why does he need to announce it to the world through an intercessionary device unless he's concerned that people won't think he's a man for some reason?

But, yeah, though there are individuals in America (many of them, actually) who ascribe to a shallow machismo, generally speaking, Americans are less machismo than Europeans (and certainly Central Americans) and more agonistic (thanks for the word, by the way, I'll use it constantly now) than Europeans and/or Central Americans.

Is Pau Gasol soft? No. He just plays a skills-based game and certain meatheads out there think that if someone emphasizes skills over brute force that they are somehow "soft", but that is just plain stupid.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

"In only his first year, the Lakers were able to reach the Finals and win it all. Is the presence of Sun Yue and a NBA title just a coincidence? Probably yes.

Posted by: never | September 09, 2009 at 07:02 PM"

look Never, we've tolerated walton, sasha and farmar for years, then they cut Sun IMHO prematurely.....find me another 6'9" LO type player....yes he's not strong enough yet, but with time, he would have come through. The Brickhouse that sasha built will never come tumbling down. Maybe it was the In-N-Out burger incident that got him on the wrong side of Kobe....

as for the comment about the ring and ammo and yue, I'll tell you this, Sun Yue will probably not accept his ring. Cultural differences....he probably enjoyed the ride, but don't keep on him.

Spot on BK. Nothing more to add.

This argument seems a little too "how many angels on the head of a pin" for me . What counts is the Lakers have around a .800 winning percentage, have never lost more than 2 games in a row, and made the Finals twice since Pau came aboard. Now I'm not saying this is all due to Pau, but during the time he was out with injury late in the 07-08 season, the Lakers did not look very good. I also did not predict how effective he would be against D-Howard, arguably the key match-up in this year's Finals.

Time will tell whether Pau makes the HOF or not, but in the meantime I'm just grateful he's here and already helped delivered one Championship, as opposed to Kwame Brown and a frustrated Kobe ready to enter the 2010 sweepstakes.

Jon K.

feel free to use the word "agonistic", it's not my copyright.. I'm glad you appreciated it.

In a general view, you're not completely wrong.
Some European people (and Italians among them, unfortunately) are not very tough for nature, and worse, they are getting more and more less tough, recently.
I look around me here and I see a lot of immigrants from abroad, that are much more "hungry" than us; they want to improve and to achieve something, while we have forgotten this kind of hunger that, in the last century, made us strong all over the world (we were imigrnats, too...).
In the sports is the same: you have to be hungry all the time. That's the reason I love Kobe Bryant: maybe he's selfish (I dont' think so..), maybe sometimes he ignores the teammate free to shot (rarely, in the latest days), but he always fights, even if he's playing a freetime game..

kobe is the shit fuken panes

well i think that kobe when its all said and done kobe will be the greatest of all time

 
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