It seems like it was only yesterday that Pau Gasol was delivered to the Lakers by the Memphis Grizzly stork. And in an instant, he turned the Lakers from first-round exits, to 1st ballot contenders.
Since 2008, L.A. has been the Western Conference champions for three consecutive years, 2009 NBA champions, and are looking to become the first team to repeat since none other than the Lakers themselves.
This is not only Kobe’s chance at making history, but Gasol’s as well.
At 7’0, Pau’s steadily becoming the league’s premier power forward, and the best big man in the league today.
An Olympic Gold medalist, FIBA World Championship MVP, Rookie of the Year, a 3-time All-Star, and a NBA champion. The list goes on for Gasol.
With his length, finese talent and high basketball IQ, he was a perfect fit for the Los Angeles Lakers. The triangle offense with Gasol and Kobe is like peanut butter to jelly. They thrive off the other. Kobe is able to demand attention from the key to the perimeter. While Pau will help protect the inside.
His ability is like no other when it comes to offensive put-backs. He seems to often recognize a missed attempt and immediately lifts to secure the field goal.
An example of this would be his game-winning tip-in against the Oklahoma City Thunder. When Kobe was prime to save the Lakers yet again, his baseline jumper was short. But Pau coralled the shot to tip it in with .5 seconds left. The Lakers would win and advance to the second round with a 4-2 series victory.
What’s most amazing about Pau is his passing from the post. He’s able to set a pick, get the ball, and make a play for a teammate almost simultaneously. Much like the play he made for Kobe in Game 1 of the conference finals. He set a pick for Bryant at the baseline, caught the ball, and immediately made an under-the-leg pass to Kobe for a field goal.
It’s just one of Pau’s many amazing moments that will have you forget that he’s a 7-foot power foward.
But what he can’t seem to shake from the media and sport analysts is the “Ga-soft” moniker. Which he unfortunately acquired in 2008 after being bullied by the Celtics in the NBA finals. The Celtics would go on to win the series 4-2 with a 30-point romp in Boston.
Critics questioned his toughness. Whether he was strong enough to handle players like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Dwight Howard.
But 2009 was a different year. The year he’d prove his doubters wrong.