Pau Dominates With Spain, Too

Kurt —  September 20, 2009

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
If after its first game of Eurobasket you had said Spain was going to walk away handily with the title, most people would have said “that Spain, the one just crushed by Serbia? HA!” Nobody questioned Spain was the most talented team, but they didn’t play like it. But by the end, Pau Gasol was tournament MVP and he had another major title (and Spain got revenge on Serbia beating them by 22).

Here are some comments from Xavier, our friendly basketball coach from Spain.

(Spain) reminded me a lot the 2008 Boston Celtics. They started real slow, playing awfully and almost being sent home too early. Serbia killed them by 20+. They started clicking after the last second loss against Turkey. Lithuania (+14), Poland (+22), France (+20), Greece (+18) and Serbia (+22) where their victims. Everything that happened before was just the ugliest basketball they’ve played in six years.

As a Laker fan, I hope Pau doesn’t feel too tired next season because this one have been veeery long, NBA champions, Euro champion, and almost no summer to rest, next week will be flying to LA to start preseason. About his finger injury, nothing to worry about, he’s been incredible.

All of this sets up a potentially very interest ring World Championships next year in Turkey.

Name me a basketball fan that didn’t enjoy the Olympics final. A single one. I want more of them, actually I’d wish every single team played at that level. I enjoyed Eurobasket final till half 3rd quarter, when it was all said and done. I want 4 quarters 40 minutes basketball games (48 minutes NBA wise). I want to cheer every play ’cause the opponent won’t give my team a second chance to shine. I want every competitor to give their best while playing against the best.

Kurt

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39 responses to Pau Dominates With Spain, Too

  1. Maybe it is just me but Gasol look so much more, how i put this, beastly don’t you think?

  2. Congrats to Pau and Spain! Pau’s recent string of success in basketball is great but also re-emphasizes the importance of Bynum’s emergence this season, hopefully for more than just to give Pau an early season “breather”, but at least that.

  3. does anyone think pau does not belong in the HOF? he’s accomplished too much outside the nba.. a couple more years player w/the lakers he’ll be a multiple championship holder.

    plus he’s like the michael jordan of spain..

  4. Last year at my college gym, a lady had a Gasol jersey on and I thought cool… Maybe I will get one this season, why not?

  5. Yes, Champions!!!
    Pau has been amazing, he has been so dominant, a true leader through the whole championship which did not start as brilliant for Spain.
    I am very happy for those players which are really a great team. They got a fantastic CV with Spain, which has been fighting for gold in most of the tounaments in last 5 – 6 years.
    Great bunch of players, high talented and very much profesional and passionate. And from I can see from my position, they are good people and they are friends. And they love basketball and have lots of fun playing it.

    They all are winners.

    And Pau, what a year. What a player!

  6. Nobody outside the NBA can’t stop Pau.
    18.7 points (66,3% fg), 8.3 boards and 2.2 blocks in 25.7 minutes.

  7. I mean nobody can…

  8. Not sure if I can answer the HOF question about Pau, but I do think that Pau is the best European player in the game right now. Well more like top 2. Him and Tony Parker are like 1 and 1a.

  9. dirk is up there too.

  10. Definately HOF-material. Here’s a nice summary from lakerground.net:

    National Team: World Champion 2006, European Champion 2009, silver medal in 2008 Olympics, European Championship silver medal 2007 and 2003, European Championship bronze medal 2001, under-19 World Champion 1998, under-19 European Champion 1999.

    Barcelona: Spanish League Champion 2001, Spanish Cup Champion 2001

    LA Lakers: NBA Champion 2009 (YEAH BABY!!!)

    Other: Most Valuble Player World Cup 2006, Most Valuble Player European Championship 2009, FIBA Europe Player of the Year 2008, NBA Rookie of the Year 2002, NBA All-Star 2006 og 2009, spanish league MVP 2001, spanish cup MVP 2001, All NBA third team 2009, All Euroleague second team 2001

  11. Pau, you can see it in him, ever since the Lakers lost to the celtics in 2008, he has been..how should I say it..meaner.. He screams after each big play, stares down his opponents, and has just been mean. He has asserted himself even more down low..wow, pau is officially my second favorite player behind Kobe.

  12. Dirk, Pau and Tony are top 3 (in this order I think).

    Pau is in a better moment now because he plays in better teams, both national team and NBA

  13. I would still take Pau over Dirk and Parker. First, Pau is a post player and in basketball size still matters. I love Tony’s speed, but Pau’s size wins out.

    Second, I would take him over Dirk because Pau is better in the post than Dirk is. Dirk may be a little better on the wing. But considering they are both 7ft. tall the post is most important.

    Lastly, I think Pau has picked a lot more fire in his belly over the last two years. The loss to Boston has really motivated him to get to another level. Dirk has never redeemed himself for that 2007 collapse. I just can’t not look at him the same anymore.

    Pau is the due. And my guess is since the Naismith Hall of fame is not restricted to NBA players I don’t see why Pau should be left out.

  14. dirk has had more individual accomplishments.. but he’s been to the finals as the top dog and failed.. his continued lack of post game is a constant liability to his team.. whereas pau’s game is more complete.. scoring in so many ways.. left/right hand.. 18-foot jumper.. flawless passing and decision making.. even on defense.. he held his own against d.howard in the 09 finals..

    his only knock is his apparent ‘softness’ in the past.. a label he’s somewhat overcome this past year..

  15. Congrats Pau! I’m very happy for him, he lost to Kobe at the Olympics but finally got his first NBA Championship ring, and 3 months later is now European Champion too. Those rings to go along with being named Euro player of the year, for the 2nd straight year. He really is a very likable guy, come to think of it the Lakers have quite a few of those in Kobe, L.O., Fisher, Walton…

    Pau has got to be approaching best-ever Euro NBA player status, the only current one as good IMHO is Dirk Nowitzki, I would think most would agree Pau is better than Tony Parker, Stojakovic, Turkoglu & Illgauskas. I also think Pau is better than all Euro’s I can think of coming before him, Vlade, Petrovic, Kukoc, Schrempf, Sabonis, Smits. Maybe in a year or two (of Laker title-wins, of course!) Pau will go down as greatest-ever Euro.

  16. From the previous thread:

    “can you imagine if we haven’t seen the best that Pau can bring yet???”

    I don’t think we have seen the best of Gasol yet. He and Kobe haven’t maximized their game together yet. But a lot depends on how willing Bynum and Artest are to fit in around those two.

  17. 9, 11: I agree, Dirk is up there, but Pau gets my vote over Dirk because of what he does on the defensive end. Not that I would consider Pau to be a great defensive player, but you saw what he did against Dwight in the finals, and to Tim Duncan in the 08 WCF. Dirk is not capable of those types of defensive performances. Even though he has improved on that end from his pre-MVP days, he’s still a liability against top-tier big men. Pau can hold his own against any PF/C in the league.

  18. 16) great point. we forget how young Pau still is. Plus he never even did weightlifting until last season. You can see how that has really improved his game and will continue to.

  19. Pau’s on his way to winning 3 championships in 2 years!

  20. Agreed with Pau hasn’t reached his peak yet, nor has he and Kobe reached their maximum game potential yet. Pau is two years younger and infinitely more versatile than Dirk. I think it will only be a matter of time until he is recognized as current-best Euro, if not this upcoming season.

    Soon we’ll be slotting Pau in with Duncan, Olajuwon, Ewing & Nash. That is not a bad all-time foreign 5 if you ask me!

  21. Dirk is the better offensive player, well at least the better scorer since Pau’s game is more rounded. Pau is a better defender, (I know he gets criticized for his D sometimes but I think he is underrated and improving), rebounder, shot blocker and passer. Personally I would take Pau over Dirk. But its hard to pass up a guy who can drop 30 almost every night and can create mismatches because of his outside shot.

  22. Possibly the improvement of Pau in D makes him better than Dirk. And I agree that his post play is more valuable for any team.

    You convinced me: 1 Pau, 2 Dirk, 3 Tony Parker. For best-ever Euro NBA player I think the two first are Pau and Dirk and third, probably Tony Kukoc.

    16. Pau is in his best moment: physically and mentally. I expect him to be better this year. If Artest fits in, the Lakers will be very hard to beat

  23. 20. Honestly, I’ve never really considered Duncan, Olajuwon, Ewing and Nash as true foreign players. These are guys who all played their college ball and learned a lot of their game on American soil. Maybe it’s just a perception thing, but they are not like Dirk/Pau/Manu who come out of a completely different system. At least to me.

  24. since when does pau not cr8 mismatches? its only cause he’s been forced to play center that hes seemingly underwhelmed strength/athleticism wise..

    on a side note im headed out to buy lottery now. truhoop just posted a complimentary article about a laker.

  25. LakerMike I wouldn’t say Pau was a better player than Sabonis. A better player in the NBA but thats because he was playin on 2 bad knees But I think Sabonis is one of the greatest centers to ever play basketball. David Robinson said that he was the best player he had ever played against after they played in the Olympics. Its just too bad that we never got to see him in the NBA while he was in his prime.

  26. To be honest… I really don’t care too much that Pau won the tournament… all I care about is he didn’t get hurt. I would have rather Spain get knocked out in the first round and save Gasol the milage.

  27. Ryan I saw Sabonis for the first time when he was 19, and he was unbelievable. Unfortunately, he had a very bad injury one or two years later, and he was never the same. Still he dominated FIBA and he did it frankly well in the NBA at 31 in very poor physical conditions. Imagine Pau arriving to the NBA in two years after a serious injury

    A healthy Sabonis would have been much better than Pau. Unfortunately his career has never been healthy.

  28. #20,

    I would have to agree with Kurt. If you go by that criteria, then Kobe would be an a foreign player as well.

    Regarding Pau: He is the most offensively talented big man in the world right now. Hands down.

  29. Ryan I remember Chick always saying to the effect it was a shame that we NBA fans didn’t get to see Sabonis earlier in his career, only at the tail end. I do remember him even at his age with the Blazers as a superb passing center and very clever with a good shot, unfortunately he had bad knees. But if we were to base our foreign list only on their NBA time then clearly there were a number of better foreign players than Arvydas based on playing more years. Pau though in my opinion is probably more well-rounded/better than Sabonis (but again I never saw Sabonis pre-NBA outside of some Olympic/Fifa games for the Soviets).

    I guess I can see why it is that people say Olajuwon, Duncan, Nash & Ewing are not true ‘foreign’ players because they played their college ball here in the states, if one eliminates players that did go to college here in the U.S. then it is hard to find a better ‘true’ foreign player than Pau.

  30. One other thing regarding Sabonis, I don’t remember feeling as bad for an opponent as when he was matched up on Shaq, who was really having his way with him one important Laker/Blazer game. I’m sure most Laker fans will remember him getting dunked on and drawing a foul in the process, then breaking down on the bench, tears streaming out. Shaq really seemed to relish going extra-hard on Sabonis, for whatever reason it seemed like Shaq would go beyond his usual monster-dunking self and try to totally destroy Sabonis. I guess Shaq knew he had is number, at times it was sorry to see an old, lumbering Sabonis that looked in pain whenever he ran getting freight-trained over by Shaq at full speed. The Blazers were never one of my fave teams but I always respected Sabonis going out there in what looked like a lot of pain at times and doing what he did.

  31. @30

    I felt that Sabonis was the one guy I feared on those Blazer teams and it was Shaq’s ability to foul him out of game 7 in 2000 that opened the floodgates during that 4th quarter comeback. His passing, his touch, his size, all caused Shaq difficulties that I saw from no one else. Don’t get me wrong, Shaq was the more dominant player in the game and his combination of athleticism and skill caused Sabonis all kinds of problems (hence fouling out of a crucial game), but if that was a broken down Sabonis then, my lord, he must have been something else in his prime.

  32. Oh, and if the weight training is going beyond just strengthening Gasol, but making him cut (as that pic seems to be indicating)… this could be one hell of a season.

  33. I grew up in the USSR and Arvydas Sabonis is imo clearly the best Eastern European big man to this day. He was not just talented, you could see his on-court IQ allowed him to remain effective even after his body gave up on him (which was very early on in his playing days) He was the only Blazer I felt bad for during our threepeat, but every three he made, every tricky shot he swooped in, every incredible pass he completed (temporarily) erased my sympathy. Pau is clearly the best European big man in the game right now though, and I think his incredible IQ & polished all-around game tops even Mr. Sabonis.

  34. Following the Sabonis thing… He couldn’t make the NBA until he was 31 because of politics (URSS didn’t allowed him to) and was already hurted by then. Sabonis, as one of my coaches always told me, has ben the best PG in Europe history, although at 7-3 high and playing high and low post instead of the top of the key. I mean… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZSuksGMJY8

    Pau is building his legacy but Sabonis shadow is longer than 7-3, much much MUCH longer. Drazen Petrovic might be a could have been none of you have mentioned, just dropping it.

  35. 23, Duncan is from St. Croix. That’s USVI, which is as American as Lincoln, Nebraska (just ask my cell company, which bills at domestic rates…)

    in terms of the earlier discussion… my namesake aside, I vote Parker, then Pau/Dirk (tie), but it’s all elite company. Parker can take over games in a fashion beyond any of the others, tearing defenses to shreds. Dirk can score in so many different ways, but agree Pau’s D is greatly superior. Until last season, I would have put Dirk ahead of Pau, but no longer.

    Most importantly, of the three, Pau seems most likely to have his best ball ahead of him.

  36. I think Pau will be fine for the season. I’m pretty sure he rested for most of the summer until the European championships. He didn’t really have a full summer of basketball, like in 2008 in Beijing.

  37. Well, guys, I think there’s something you’re forgetting about Pau. Dirk has a better shot, Tony is fast as hell and breaks defenses by himself, but Pau makes his teammates better. That is by far a better reason to choose him before his fellow europeans. He’s a willing passer, an excellent around the rim finisher, has regained the shooting touch he somehow lost in Memphis, defends in a very clever way and is he is a very nice human being.

    He might not make the HOF by american standards unless he wins a couple more and gets in the All-Star in a regular way, but by all means he’ll be a HOF as a foreign player, being the best ever spaniard in a team (Spanish NT) that is already fulfilling an excellent resume (to the level of the russian and yugoslavian teams that used to dominate in the 80s-90s)

    Speaking of Sabonis and Petrovic, they are by far the best ever european players, followed by Kukoc and some others. I think Pau is already getting to their level, and he has still so much room for improvement.

  38. Sabonis was a Monster.
    He’s got all the skills you can ask for a center.
    Besides he can shoot (better than many good shooters).
    He can pass, better than many good PGs.
    He was BIG, as big as Shaq.
    And he was (I guess he is) very smart.

    It would have been a great matchup, Shaq vs Sabonis (both in their primes).
    I believe Sabonis would be Ok in there.