After seven seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers where he made three straight NBA Finals appearances, Pau Gasol decided to sign with the Chicago Bulls this past off-season. While the Lakers made numerous offers to keep the Spaniard in Los Angeles, Gasol ultimately wanted an opportunity to win more championships and even took a pay cut.
With the 2014-15 regular season days away, Gasol talked about how difficult it was to leave Kobe Bryant after the five-time champion wanted them to retire together according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post:
“He wanted to pretty much retire together,” Gasol said of Bryant. “That was an attractive option. One part of me wanted to stick with him and try to turn it around. But deep inside of me, I felt it was time after everything that I’d been through that I wanted to put myself in a position where I was highly stimulated. Kind of change directions a little bit, fresh start and get going again.”
While leaving Kobe and the Lakers was difficult, Gasol says he feels rejuvenated in the final stages of his career:
“A couple of rough seasons after a great run,” Gasol said. “I thought it was time to be in a different position, to be in a position where I had a chance to explore my talents and add to the quality and value of the team I would join. I’m excited to be a part of this team, this franchise. I feel energized. I feel rejuvenated.”
After helping lead the Lakers to two championships in three straight Finals appearances, Gasol’s time with the team was filled with constant trade rumors and role changes. Despite the circumstances, Gasol was the consummate professional on-and-off the court.
Appearing in 429 games for the Lakers, Gasol averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
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