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Pau Gasol: Everything you always wanted to know about hamstrings*... *But were afraid to ask

It was Wednesday's big news from El Segundo, more so than the presence on the practice court of Matt Lauer. No disrespect intended, but the big Spaniard's balky right hammy it a lot higher on the pecking order for Lakers fans than anything coming up on the Today Show.

First, the video:

So there you have it- Pau Gasol, rocking the elliptical machine when the media was let in- will be on the treadmill Thursday, and if he recovers well, Friday. From there, it's a question of getting back on the practice court, playing at full speed and recovering well. For multiple practices, I would think. Looking at the schedule, that takes him into next week at the earliest.

After the big, TV camera-laden throng dispersed, Gasol answered a few questions for us print/web types, addressing first the comment from the video that he had "skipped a few steps" in the initial stages of his rehab. The full transcript is below. 

Q: You said before that you might have skipped a few steps in coming back?

"It's all very relative. Because once you start feeling well, you want to do more, so you yourself put yourself in a position where you think you're okay, but there's really no way to find out. Because if the muscle is feeling great, then you're not skipping anything. You're doing just fine, and you're doing the right thing. I think we've been doing the right thing by testing it out. Maybe we should have waited a little more to test it, but there was no way to find out if you didn't put yourself through the test. So that's why I say it's all relative."

Q: So it came from you wanting to come back and test it, rather than anyone pushing you?

"No, no, no. They didn't push or anything. Obviously everyone wants me to be healthy, everyone wants me to be out there, but the main thing is (playing) healthy, especially at this early stage of the season. I never felt pushed or anything. We didn't skip steps intentionally so I would be out there (faster). We did more or less what my body was telling me at the time, but there was no way to find out if things were going to be okay if I didn't put myself through certain exercises and a certain amount of work."

It's worth noting that Pau was emphatic regarding his treatment. While certainly disappointed that the leg Pau Gasol dunks against the Boston Celtics on Christmas hasn't healed faster, there was no anger or disappointment directed at the coaching and training staffs.

Q: So you have no regrets about the process then so far?

"That's what's so relative. It's (always) so easy to say and have an opinion after the fact, but it's harder to go through it on a daily basis. It's been hard for me, and right now I'm just trying to be maybe a little extra patient, because I definitely don't want to take any more steps backwards, or take any chances."

Q: Have you been able to put yourself in the state of mind that this could be good for you, because you'll get some rest that could be valuable later?

"I think every negative thing pretty much has its positive sides, and I hope that that's one of them (in) the whole process. I just can't wait for the day that I can see myself out there and playing again, probably struggling the first couple of days because of the conditioning and being out for this amount of time. But it's definitely something I want to go through."

Q: Do you wish you had taken more time off in camp?

"I don't know. Again, it's relative. It's just hard to know when and why and if there's a bigger chance (of injury), if there's a lower chance (of injury) if... there's always a lot of "ifs." I felt like I was in really good shape when I came to training camp. A little bit fatigued, probably more mentally than physically, but again, it's relative. You don't know if it was an isolated play where anyone could have gotten hurt by it or if it was because of something else."

Here I agree with Pau's basic point. Simply stating "Gasol played too much ball, and that's why he got hurt" isn't responsible. Could the heavy workload have been a factor? Absolutely. But at the same time, it may have happened anyway. The hamstring pull is not exactly the Brazilian sideneck turtle of the NBA's injury list, all endangered and whatnot. It's also possible that the pull could have been worse if muscles accustomed to consistent physical activity went cold for a bit, then cranked back up to NBA speed.

It's simply impossible to say. If Gasol was 35 years old, it might be different, but he's in his prime.

Still, rest is on his radar. Gasol said he may not play in the World Championships this summer, and at one point considered taking last summer off, in the end motivated to participate in with Spain in the European Championships first by a desire to help his country secure a gold in that event (something I believe they missed out on before) and second by finishing last season feeling good physically, without any nagging problems.

This summer, though, could be a candidate for rest. "It gets to a point in your career that you have to make decisions like that and be smart about what you do, so I can take advantage also of what we have right here, of winning championships," he said. 

The 2012 Olympics are still in his plans.

Bottom line: Thursday and Friday nights against the Suns and Nuggets respectively are out, and Sunday against Houston is a serious longshot. My guess- please note the normal caveats that it is, in fact, my guess and not based on information provided by the team, is he doesn't play until a week from Sunday against the Thunder at Staples at the earliest. It could be a little longer (if Gasol's recovery lasted through the end of the month I wouldn't be shocked), it could be shorter. Hamstrings, as we've noted, are very difficult to predict, and enjoy timetables like Mitchell's rainforest snail enjoys deforestation.

Phil Jackson intimated today that the team could be without Pau until Christmas... though he has a well earned reputation for screwing with people on all sorts of levels when it comes to injuries. But that only reinforces the point. The injury is tough to predict.

It would be very easy to push too fast and short circuit the healing process. The Lakers and Gasol have already been bitten by that bug, and rather than risk having to again hit the reset button on Pau's rehab, I think they'll be very careful going forward.


Comments () | Archives (34)

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ESPN's front page link has Jackson insinuating Gasol might be out "until Christmas." If it's true, then it's obviously very disappointing news—can't see how Gasol would make an All-Star team having missed so much time.

Let's just hope he comes back rested, rehabilitated, and stronger than ever~

Nice post about Artest over at Forum Blue And Gold


WTF, BSPN reports that PJ told Pau may be out until X-mas...

AK/BK, any updates on that???

Also Phil Jackson said Pau might be out until Christmas. Hopefully he is just playing mind games with Pau and or the media. But seriously, I could see them holding Pau back at least a few more weeks to make sure that he fully heals.


phted- they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so in a sincere response, get your own name.

Puddle- I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but ‘buck’ is a racial slur. Just letting you know.

Dave m- please let’s not distract the guy too much. Don’t give him any ideas, unless they involve shooting with either hand. And since I like you, I’m ignoring the first part of your comment. : )

BK- I love me some David Attenborough on the discovery channel. Ok, I mildly like me some, but hey.
I nominate ‘Brazilian sideneck turtle’ for the most obscure reference of all time. Now we need to have somebody put it on a treadmill and start the Benny Hill music. On an unrelated note, I was once offered a Brazilian sideneck in a spa once, but I politely declined.

let him rest. I don't think home court matters now that they have experience. Just be ready come playoffs.

Nice story guys, and just like Pau Gasol some years ago, I also had a series of pulled groins, and had to quit playing the sport I loved so much. What made these pulled groins even worse was the fact these groins I was puling werent even mine.

Silver Screen and Roll claims to have a second source saying that Gasol might not practice for a month.


That Ron Arest acquisition is looking more valuable now. As good as Bynum is becoming, I feel Artest is more capable of shouldering that second option especially on the offensive side.

That Ron Arest acquisition is looking more valuable now. As good as Bynum is becoming, I feel Artest is more capable of shouldering that second option especially on the offensive side.

Here is the ESPN story. They claim that LA Daily news is reporting the story, but it is only printed on their blog which I already linked. Regardless, the blog entry is a straight up quote and mentions that the TV guys were there.


It's really unfortunate for Pau and the Lakers. Personally, I think taing a rest this summer was the ticket. Take Kobe for example-took time off and did NOTHING. You must always feel concerne d when one of your star players continues to play after a championship season. Moving on, let's Pau can come back before Christmas and can use thohse games prior to January's schedule to get ready for the Celtics. Maybe he can make it back for Christmas Day's match up with the Cavs. One thing about Pau which I believe is in his favor-he's such a complete ball palyer-does all the basics right. Hopefully he's is using this time to strengthen his upper body. So far, L.A. is playing okay ball. Once the bench kicks in - look out. Add Pau to that recipe and it spells another ring come June!

The video from Phil saying Pau might not be back till christmas is here -


Was that TV show "Groin Pains" based on your story?

Y'all still liking that idea of Lakers playing summer ball in Europe?

How long, would you guess, until Kobe breaks down for carrying this team?

Hope PJackson gives Luke more PT. Powell needs competition on most shots blocked.

Otis -

My guess would be.. sometime around the time he hits 38..


Purge ESPN from your life. They'll always publish the most outlandish portion of the story as the main point, even if it isn't.

Get your rest Pau. We'll need you in June.

Is there any way we can trade our training staff + a draft pick to the Suns for their training staff?

Yellowfever i don't wear panties and you obviously can't back up anything with facts. ok want facts. FACT Iverson increased his shooting percentage to career height playing in Denver as well as assists. while shooting less. I wonder why oh I think I know he was paying with Carmelo so he wasn't being doubled and schemed for like in the past. That just proves my point tha Iverson would do well with a good team. FACT what NUGGET PLAYED DEFENSE. Carmelo at the time didn't care like he does now is that Iverson's fault too??? Marcus Camby was still there Nene was injured JR was a knucklehead who can play D but cared about Offense Birdman was still doing crack,dope heroin or whatever and there backup center was steven hunter. Anthony Carter got major burn only cuz he played D. And as a LAker fan Are u forgetting who knocked them out of the playoffs yeah none other than us lol. I bet they would went further if not for us. Funny how people's memory change so fast. So for one and a half seasons he played wit a good scorer and made the playoffs oh and shot a higher % than carmelo while averaging more points and assists hmmm yup all Iverson's fault. That was his last year and only FULL season wit the nuggets. the year before they made it and got beat by the SPurs and were worse than the next year. So there goes that theory lol. Next up Detroit this is gonna be fun lol

Ummm..Lakers pick 29 has just played another really good game..

23 points and 4 assists...

But thats ok because we dont need a good young strong point guard..NOT..

Now For iverson On Detroit. The coach sucked and he lied to Iverson FACT read up onit even Rip Said It. ANYONE KNOW WHY HE LEFT??? BECAUSE THE COACH TOLD HIM THE TEAM WOULD QUIT ON HIM!!!!!!!!! All cuz Rip didn't want to take a back seat to a better player than him which Iverson is unless u think Rip is a franchise player or ever was lol. How WOULD YOU FEEL??? U'd leave too cuz why play wit people who don't like me?? he personally wasn't doing bad the team was in flux is all. new coach new schemes new teammates new offense he had to learn all that and he didn't shoot the number of shots he's used to commanding trying to be more team orientated trying to replace what Billups brought to that team and he should have just been Iverson and stop trying to be what people want. if he woulda been that 28-30 ppg Iverson what would anyone have to say? Oh of course they'd do the same thing they do to Kobe complain no matter what. But Kobe is less sensitive to the criticism than Iverson he channels it as focus. Iverson feels like he plays his heart out thru injury after injury and can't get no love. The man just wants to be loved and accepted for who he is. I can understand that and if u don't than hurrah to ur perfect life of acceptance. So someone explain how detroit was his fault?? it was never bout the bench role it was about how he thought the team seen him. he couldn't be comfortable cuz he didn't feel accepeted by the team.

Nuggets lose tonight in Milwaukee and were fortunate to get the win last night against the Bulls after refs overturned Miller's shot. Rookie Brandon Jennings is really ballin' for the Bucks right now and is the early ROY in my opinion.

The Hornets have NO ONE but Chris Paul, they're a terrible team. How long before Paul blows up because of the losing and the ineptitude of his mates. David West has fallen back to earth and isn't the same player he was two years ago.

Can someone please tell Phil to Start Shannon Brown tomorrow night??

Guys what are we going to do if the suns win tonight and beat us tomrrow and we lose to Denver. Are we really going to be 4 games out in the west. I can't F----beleive this. What do the Suns have that is so dominating? Their old and have no Center. How are they putting up close to 40 points a quarter. I'm mad because this is the year I wanted the lakers to be Rulers of the West. The Suns did not even make the playoffs last year. How can they be considered the best in the west. I don't understand how an up tempo offense that plays no defense can win so many games. I can't beleive they went 4-1 on their road trip. I have to get off this soap box, but it very frustrating to see them dominating the west right now. We're the fricken champions and we won the west by what last year, 10, 12 games. Ok I feel better now that I've vented.


Pau's injury so much sounds like Bynum 3.0.... :-(

I think Gary Vitti is getting old. He should be replaced by a younger orthopedic-medic who will be able to manage Laker players.

Well, from 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's when life in NBA was simple and cheap, we never heard of these "open-ended" injuries. I remember Kareem, Byron, Magic and James getting injuries and it has never been that controversial. I don't remember West , Baylor, Chamberlain make issues on injuries. They always wanted to play. Then in the 90's with Van Exel, Jones, Cebalos, Campbell, Rooks, Divac, nobody bothered on their injuries. At that time, when Dr. Lombardo says that he will be out for 4 weeks, they usually get healed on the 5th week. It is accurately predicted without any doubt, qualms or cerebral breaking news. In this day and age, how many times did they err on Drew's injury of 8 weeks till months later, on Shaq's big toe. This time, it is Pau thigh whose MRI on his hamstring were sent all the way to Madrid and back to US doctors. Gosh, this is what makes health care so expensive and complicated. Will somebody makes an honest-to-goodness prognosis? What makes Gasol's hamstring different from several other hamstring injuries? There has to be definite orthopedic therapeutic opinion on a simple thigh in the 21st Century...good Lord please help them! and why oh why is Phil Jackson playing the doctor on this matter? It could be after Christmas, what are his medical credentials?

The person who should provide the medical bulletin should be Gary Vitti, we don't hear from him. Time to retire and give the job to a young MD.

Thanks for the Peruvian lunch buffet. It was great seeing you and yours again.

Colorado loves our World Champion Lakers!

I agree with Otis - I think it stinks that all these NBA players want to participate in the olympics and other world games. Who cares about that? That should be for the amateurs...give it to the college players. As fans, we want our NBA team in good health and ready to roll come the regular season and playoffs. I think it should be forbidden that they play in other competitions....what the hell are we paying for? These guys make crazy salaries - we're not the owners, but who is paying the crazy ticket prices, buying all the logo items, getting robbed at the concession stands....and then we don't even get to see our star players because they are hurt from summer league play?

I want to see a freaking full Laker team play!!!

this is the price of playing 3 straight years without rest. the nba should have a rule of letting their players play for their country. it's not bad to play for your country but, playing 3 years without rest is too much! they are humans and not machines, for pete's sake.
with kobe on the team, we can manage to stay at the top, but that would mean extra effort on kobe. on the lighter side, this would solidify kobe's bid for MVP2.0. but then again, who needs MVP when you cant win a ring?
just stay healthy pau. please come back the soonest possible.
Lakers All The Way!

So, according to Mark Jackson on the ESPN telecast of the NO/PHO game (the Hornets, BTW, are truly horrible), Phil was joking - as only Phil can - about the Christmas date. I give the whole thing another week, tops.

It's best for the game of basketball, and for fans as a whole, for them to play in the Olympics, EuroBasket, etc.

The Hornets just fired Byron Scott...

Below is the story from ESPN

Pau's candor is refreshing. Obviously intelligent, he knows enough to know there's nothing to know. Patience, sports fans.



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