Lakers forward Pau Gasol to miss FIBA World Championships this summer
After meeting with doctors, Lakers forward Pau Gasol said on his official website Tuesday that he will not help Spain defend its title at the FIBA World Championships this summer because of injuries and fatigue.
"We concluded that after another long NBA season, coupled with my participation to the highest level in all club competitions and national team during these past years, makes it very difficult physically to face an important challenge as the World Cup of Basketball," Gasol said in a statement posted on his official website. "This year I have suffered two major muscle injuries, the first in my career, and I firmly believe it is time to rest. I think the best is to choose an appropriate time to rest first than your body decides for you at the most inopportune time."
Gasol has sustained numerous injuries, including a left index finger broken last summer during a practice with the Spanish national team. That injury required immediate surgery. He also missed the first 11 regular-season games with the Lakers because of a strained right hamstring, as well as six games midway through the season because of a strained left hamstring.
Nonetheless, Gasol on Thursday will enter the Lakers' NBA Finals matchup against the Boston Celtics averaging 20 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this postseason, trailing only Kobe Bryant's clip of 29.4 points per game. And despite his injuries, Gasol managed to average 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in the regular season, prompting Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to call him the team's MVP for the last 30 games of the season while Bryant nursed various finger, ankle and knee injuries.
Gasol essentially has played basketball nonstop for nearly three years, including three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, the Beijing Olympics and practice with the Spanish national team, which won a FIBA World Championship in 2006.
"I know that everyone knows my commitment with this team, and I regret this decision," Gasol said of his decision to sit out the FIBA World Championships in Turkey Aug. 28-Sept. 12. "But in the last four years I'm probably one of the players who have played more games in the world, having reached the finals of all the disputed contests with the Lakers and Spain. Now my body is calling for a temporary relief.
"In the future I have all the hope of being part of this team that I love, and hope to be again part of the national team, our team."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers forward Pau Gasol, playing for Spain, dunks in front of China's Yao Ming during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Credit: Dusan Vranic / Associated Press