Pau Gasol acknowledges difficulty in winning European Championship
This is the first post in an occasional series of Q&As with Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who will play in the FIBA European Championships beginning Wednesday in Lithuania for the Spanish national team. Below is his email exchange with The Times.
What's your overall outlook on the European Championships?
I do think we have a great collection of talent, but there are great teams here. Whether it is the best collection or not, I am not the one who should judge. I know we are the defending champion; it will be very hard to win it again.
How would you compare playing with your brother, Marc, and fellow countrymen on the Spanish national team to playing for the Lakers?
It is different to play with the national team. It is a short period of time and it is more intense. And all the competition, being shorter, means a lot, so every single game counts a lot. Playing for the Lakers means a lot to me too; It's hard to compare both experiences.
Being a part of the Lakers makes me feel proud, and all the teammates feel the same. Playing with my brother Marc and with my very good friend Navarro is a very good experience and something that I really enjoy doing because we know each other so much that is very rewarding.
Do you feel like you have anything to prove given the way the Lakers' postseason ended?
I do not think there's anything to prove on my side. Last season we didn't perform during the playoffs as we were supposed to. But people do not forget our previous championships. You cannot win every year, there are a lot of very good teams in the league. That will give more value to our previous championships. I don't think I have to prove anything but of course I want our national team to win the championship.
What are your plans if the NBA lockout persists?
I have not been thinking about that yet, although I follow all the negotiations. As far as now, I see the situation has not changed much. I am optimistic that there will be an agreement and the lockout could end soon. I will think about everything when it will be the moment to do so. As far as now, I am focused on the European Championship.
Photo: Spain's Pau Gasol, left, drives around Darius Songaila of Lithuania during a friendly match on Aug. 18. The Lakers forward could be spending a lot of time in Europe if NBA labor negotiations fail to lift the lockout before the scheduled start of the season. Credit: Valda Kalnina / EPA