Here’s to you, Pau

Daniel Rapaport —  February 27, 2014

In all likelihood, Pau Gasol will play a maximum of 25 more games in the Lakers’ purple and gold. Pau’s contract, which pays him $19.3 million a year, will expire at the end of this season. He’s past his prime, sure, but he still has a ton to offer to a team who needs a skilled big man to push them over the hump (in his last 10 games, he’s averaging 19.6 points and 11.3 boards on 53% shooting). The Lakers have been ultra-prudent about keeping the cap sheet clear for the next few years in an attempt to make the rebuilding process a quick and relatively painless one. Pau will probably be a casualty of this strategy; the Lakers will look for younger players who will be able to produce at an elite level for years to come.

This season has been a disaster that’s been well chronicled on this blog and seemingly every form of basketball media. There’s been a lot to be disappointed about: the never ending injuries, the inability to compete in third quarters, the uncertainty of Kobe’s future to name a few. But for me, nothing has been more upsetting than watching Pau visibly disagree with Coach D’Antoni in a manner that is so distinctly un-Pau like. It’s the second consecutive year in which Pau has been dissatisfied with how he’s been used on the court, so this really isn’t anything new, but after the Pacers’ game was a new low. Though he tried to remain diplomatic, Pau essentially called out D’Antoni’s leadership ability and decision making when it comes to lineups. It seems the stress of losing constantly has worn on Gasol, who’s one of exactly two Lakers left over from the glory days of 2008-2010.

This isn’t the Pau I want to remember. Nope. Not interested in remembering Gasol as a complainer. Or as an over-the-hill big who shows flashes of his old greatness but appears at least a step slow. I prefer to remember #16 as the beast in the post that he once was, a player who could beat you with both hands, with his back to the basket, or torch a defense with a wet midrange J. I prefer to remember the Spaniard as the ultimate team-first guy who wouldn’t dare say a negative syllable about his team to the media. That’s the Pau I came to love.

This Pau:

I distinctly remember the day he was acquired. It was my seventh grade year, and as I came out of my pre-algebra class I saw my friend, a fellow Laker fanatic, literally screaming through the halls: “WE GOT PAU GASOL!!! WE GOT PAU GASOL!!!” The Lakers were off to a good start that year- the team’s promising young center, Andrew Bynum, was playing well before an injury (Bynum injured; who’d a thunk?) and Kobe was probably the best player in the world at the time. However, the Lakers weren’t anywhere near contender status. That all changed on February 3rd, 2008, when Pau came to Los Angeles. The Lakers made the finals that year, their first of three consecutive, and the purple and gold were back.

I genuinely fear that people will forget how good- and how instrumental to this franchise- Pau was. He was the undoubted second option on a team that won two championships and reached the finals three straight years. He made three straight all star teams from 2009-2011. Pau gave the 2012 USA team, who many believed could have given 1992’s Dream Team a run for their money, fits in the gold medal game to the tune of 24 points despite facing constant double teams.

Now, Pau’s on the trading block, or at least is reported by the media to be on the trading block, each and every season. He’s viewed as an overpaid cap-clogger who is probably a bit overweight and really doesn’t fit D’Antoni’s system, which favors athletic bigs who can roll to the basket effectively, a la Amare Stoudemire in his prime. I think it’s clear that Kobe doesn’t like the way Pau’s been treated by the organization in recent years, and I agree whole heartedly with him.

Gosh, Pau has given us so so SO many memories. Everyone Laker fanatic has a personal favorite Pau moment. For me, it’s him leading this fast break:

He’s got the long, flowy, probably greasy hair that he sported during his prime. He’s moving great; at 28, he was at, or near, his physical peak. And my oh my, look at how incredibly skilled he is for a legitimate 7-footer.

So when Pau makes his likely departure this offseason, don’t hold a grudge. Don’t remember him as over-the-hill, or a guy who’s detrimental to a locker room and complains to the media about his coach. Remember the championship player and the championship person who brought our beloved Lakers back to glory. Pau’s an all-time Laker great. His jersey may someday hang in the rafters alongside the #24 of his partner in crime.

And that’s how it should be.

Daniel Rapaport


to Here’s to you, Pau

  1. Pau: A significant contributor to multiple championships. That makes him an all time Laker. I am one who thinks The Wall should be an “extremely” elite club. However we seem to have gone to the de-facto standard of HOF as a Laker, and Pau is destined for that and therefore destined for The Wall as now stands. I am good with that.


  2. Nobody should hold a grudge against Pau and no he is not a detriment to the locker room. He just said what everyone in that locker room is thinking about the coaching, but Pau (and to a lesser extent Farmar) are the only ones with gravitas to say it.

    In terms of his legacy nothing much needs to be said, but I will say that he was the best player on the court in one of the toughest, hardest fought basketball games ever played (game 7, 2010 vs Celtics) for that game alone he should have Lakers fans gratitude.


  3. Great article! I just have one bone to pick which is this statement.

    “The Lakers were off to a good start that year- the team’s promising young center, Andrew Bynum, was playing well before an injury (Bynum injured; who’d a thunk?) and Kobe was probably the best player in the world at the time. However, the Lakers weren’t anywhere near contender status.”

    Before the Bynum injury the Lakers were absolutely contenders. If Bynum *doesn’t get injured that year I still think that team makes the finals. However, we’ll never know…

    I’m going to miss Pau and I don’t believe we would have won 2 championships without him (with an injured Bynum). He deservers the HOF and if he gets the HOF, then he deserves to be on the Laker Wall.


  4. 2010 NBA Finals, Game 7 against the Celtics. Biggest stage in the basketball universe. Gasol goes for 19 points, 18 boards, 2 blocks, and HUGE free throws and rebounds down the stretch. This Laker fan will never forget his contributions, class, leadership, and rightful place in Laker lore. Muchas gracias, Pau.


  5. No, Pau wasnt the best player on the floor in game 7 of the 2010 finals., Kobe was the best player. Pau shot poorly, most of his rebounds were tips of his misses. That said, I appricate Pau because he had the perfect temprament to be Kobe’s number 2. As for 2008, if Bynum didnt get injured, with or without Pau we would have made the finals. In fact if Bynum wasnt inured we win the ‘ship in 2008. Pau however will never be confused for a leader. He never won a playoff game without Kobe. In 2011, with Kobe playing on one leg and the team needing him Pau shrunk. I will remember him as one of the most skilled bigmen of all time however lacking in desire. In addition, I will remember him as someone who always looked to blame others for his struggles.


  6. Great post, but I still don’t see Pau as a Whiner. The guy is first class all the way.
    Plus, if his complaints help us get rid of MDA, then we owe Pau for yet another good deed.


  7. Thanks for this article. Literally just read the back-and-forth between Pau and MR on ESPN before heading over here.

    No doubt that Pau was instrumental in those championships, but the thing I can’t stand most about him is his habit of airing out frustrations through media. Be a man! Go into the coach’s office and say it there. It’s not as if he didn’t know sport media outlets would of course highlight this latest episode.

    Despite D’antoni’s flaws as a coach, what Pau did was disrespectful and, dare I say, cowardly. Imagine yourself being unhappy with your position at work. Instead of speaking to your manager, you talk about it to everyone else.

    Even though I was part of the group that clamored for KG instead of Pau during that time, the results speak for themselves. Championships and Finals appearances. I will always remember Gasoline as a contributor that helped cement Lakers history. But using my previous example, if you know you are leaving the company where you are unhappy at, why bad mouth it on the way out?

    Handle it like a man, Pau.


  8. Great article and sentiment.
    Pau’s unselfish and ego-less attitude is rare and even rarer among today’s elite players.
    His big-man skills will surely be missed- unless-
    Perhaps he can be re-signed by the Lakers at a discount (2 years @ 8-9 mil per?) and be a part of our next phase?
    That is, if MDA departs.
    Kupchak has gone on record as saying that retaining Pau is still an option.
    If Kobe has anything to say about it, our farewells to Pau may be premature.


  9. Pau was the best laker against Boston….should’ve been MVP…..Also why should D.A. play anyone who isnt in the plan for next season?? Wins dont mean anything right now…Lakers need to see all the players who may be here next season..Development is important and I rather see the Lakers devolop someone for next season then play someone who is gone at the end…Its a no brainer..


  10. @gene
    Two points.
    1. Pau was dang good against Boston, but he didn’t carry the load. Kobe did- which is why he was MVP.

    2. IF what you’re saying is true about MDA playing not to win games this year, but instead to evaluate talent for next year –>then that is tanking. Also, he has been horrid with his rotations before tanking was in the plans…does he get a pass for that too?


  11. Pau has been mostly very good and a class act.

    No way he is back at $9 or $10. Zbo will be gone next year and he will get offered more by Memphis.

    If Bosh goes expect a move by Riley,

    Pau has had enough of MD insults and attempted trades. If Mumbles insulted Kobe like he had Pau how fast would he be gone? Not once did Mitch or Jimmy protect Pau from Mike “taking his comments to the press” instead of leaving that is the locker room!

    Ironic Huh?


  12. Can anyone confirm whether Pau can be used in a sign and trade this offseason? I’m just wondering if this gives the Lakers an additional avenue to improve.


  13. Wish we cud bring back Phil… Pau should have been traded last season since they placed all their hope on Dwight.

    It could have been an even better tank.

    Yet I still think if a halfcourt/inside-out philosophy type coach was in the building, the Lakers would have been better last year.

    It’s time for a reboot. Pau won’t be forgotten. He would re-sign with the Lakers if Phil came back. But no way is Jim going down that road again


  14. Jimmmym, “Be a man…?”

    You do realize that D’Antoni has historically used the media to deride players, fans and all things not Steve numerous times?


  15. Hale, agreed. I remember last year when he benched Pau in the fourth quarter of a close game and when asked why, replied “because I want to win games.” If that’s not a shot through the media, I don’t know what is.


  16. Give credit to pau for being a consummate professional while being on the trading block for so many years. He’s a rarity.

    He’ll go down as one of the european greats and got the most out of playing with kobe.

    He is a great team player and undestands the game better than most – including the current coach.

    The Pau that played against the US in the most recent Olympics has not shown up in a Laker jersey for many years. That will be counted against him.

    In my mind he really fell off after the last championship, but so did the lakers.

    Hope he gets picked up by the spurs or another title contender. He can still play, just not as much and as well as he used to.


  17. Absolutely no problem w/ what Pau said & how he said it. For those keeping count, at the very least, Magic, Kobe, Kareem, & Pau have all voiced their displeasure with the way Little Jimmy B or his boys are carrying out his wishes.

    Of course Pau is frustrated, Lakers s/h let him go, allowing him a shot at playing on a real team instead of drag him thru the balance of this mess of a season. Hmmm, maybe that’s why they paid Kobe all those $$$.

    Pau’s #16 easily makes the rafters. Not only was he extremely instrumental in bringing two titles to the Laker franchise, he’s actually the best power forward to ever wear the Blue & Gold for an extended period.

    24 more games to go Pau…24 more games to go.


  18. you missed the point February 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I don’t think most Lakers fans believe that Pau was out of line or is “whining.” Mike D wants to keep it “in house” but he surely didn’t do that when he told the media he was just trying to “win games” when he benched Pau last year. I don’t think there’s a more hated Laker player/coach than D’antoni at this point in time. I can’t believe he has the nerve to talk about how the Lakers are better for playing “small ball.” We’re the WORST team in the Western Conference right now. I can’t remember this EVER happening in the history of the Lakers franchise. Someone needs to take away this guys license. Injuries are one thing, but when you’re throwing out odd, atypical lineups all the time you better be ready to hear hell if your as bad as the Lakers are.


  19. Pau was the difference in turning the Lakers into champions again. Phil and Kobe needed that intelligent, skilled big, and it was apparent immediately that it was a new era. Pau learned what it takes in his first season with the Lakers, and in his second, he became a tougher player. Ask Howard and Garnett.

    Bynum had skills, and the Lakers weren’t a bad team, but there is really no good argument I’ve ever seen in print or with my own eyes that supports Bynum and the Lakers winning championships without Pau. I’m sure everyone connected with the Lakers understands this.

    Pau Gasol is an exceptional class guy and one of my favorite Lakers. It’s been tough having to watch him slow down, and wear down under coaching that doesn’t fit him. The NBA is a super athletic league for him to compete in. I think he’s been too passive, and hasn’t been a big impact player for several years now. I’m not going to pretend to know how much of that is on the Lakers, and how much on Pau. Bottom line, though— put him on the list with Wilt, Kareem, and Shaq, as a Laker big instrumental in bringing titles to the P&G.


  20. yep, i’m getting tired of MDA myself. smallball is cool, but it’s best for someone who has no choice but to play that way. it shouldn’t be the goal. i’m all for spreading the floor and using a 4 that can shoot, but pitting Wes Johnson against David West and other legitimate 4s seems irresponsible and unfair to the team and WJ. whatever philosophy a coach has, you want them to make the best use of the players that they have. i really like many of DA’s sets, i just hate his philosophy. i think that this experiment has run it’s course.

    Pau may not be the greatest in the game at his position anymore, but he’s still an effective player. it’s sad that MDA can’t seem to utilize Pau’s talents and that his point guard has to decide to just go to strentgth on his own.

    basketball is and always will be a game of size. it’s bordering on idiocy to ignore that. even Nellie would have been happy to have a couple of quality bigs if he could have gotten them.


  21. Whiny?

    Pau has put up with more crap than any great player in my memory. I like some things about D’Antoni. But he Is HORRIBLE at getting the most out of who he has – he is only good at running his system with the right guys.

    Mikey has totally misused Pau. Pau has lived on the trading block. Even when winning titles he was dismissed as soft.

    All unfair. Now Pau just speaks up and tells the truth. Good for him.


  22. All I can say is I miss the triangle.


  23. Pau was the best player down the stretch on that game 7 people forget that he came into that game after totally dismantling the Celtics in game 6, lets face the fact, Kobe was dead tired in that game he could not hit a bucket but he made it up with the 15 rebounds he got, but Fish tied the game Metta put it on ice with that 3 but Pau bury it with that basket against KG and what looked like the entire Celtic front line who was soft? He took KG to school that entire series, Kobe himself said that Pau could had been MVP of that Finals and he would had been ok with it. That was the pinnacle of Paus career, he never been as good as he was back then, but i love him because despite everything that has gone down since he loves the Lakers and he would love to finish his career here. At the beggining of the season he was the whipping boy deluxe bc of his play but if something shows us how much we knows is that he evidently was really hurt. His play since January evidence enough. If he takes a good paycut i would love for him to end his career as a Laker nobody that have been in that team for the last 10-15 years besides Kobe deserve it more. If like almost certainly will be the case he leaves he will have my everlasting support and respect werever he ends up and would love for him to have his number called to the rafters besides Kobe and take his place with the other Laker greats. Damn i feel like criying damn you FB&G!!!


  24. KL: Why would you miss the triangle? Might it have somthing to do with the fact that the Lakers have put themseles in a box?
    mud: Man when I see a post like this from you, I know MD has gone way over the edge.
    stucktrader: “Yet I still think if a halfcourt/inside-out philosophy type coach was in the building, the Lakers would have been better last year.” So I guess you mean that Phil was a better fit for the roster. I think Jim had a different version of that sentence.
    Ko: “Not once did Mitch or Jimmy protect Pau ” Don’t worry – Pau will get the last laugh. His name will go on The Wall. MD’s name will go on the Laker coaching list right below Randy Pfund.


  25. BTW Farmar, the only other player or coach on that team that knows what winning a championship is, he backed Pau and basically said “screw MDA lets run it thru Pau” and the results were evident in the 2nd half where the Lakers played some of their best ball off the season. And Farmar said that he will keep doing it, win or lose.


  26. I’ll take 1 Pau over a dozen MDA’s


  27. Game 7 Pau was more valuable then Kobe….


  28. Pau will always be the Lakers’ best power forward until someone takes it away from him.

    One of my favorite people in the world, despite my advocacy to trade him many times. But everytime I suggest his trade its because I want him to land on a good place away from this mess. Of course the Lakers get value while there “was” still time.

    He also answered me on twitter, which is about as cool as anything a superstar could ever do in this world.


  29. I don’t know, while Shaq helped us to get to 4 finals and brought back 3 championships, I think I liked our team with Pau a lot more although it ‘only’ went to 3 finals and brought back 2.

    As for MDA, seriously, if we didn’t let Brown go so quickly we would have gotten rid of MDA quickly. He’s good for us this season as we have no choice but to tank, but next season? Let’s hope we get more class acts as coaches, not prima donnas.


  30. That shot against Boston in GM7, he goes up against ‘Sheed in the low post, Pierce rotates over from behind, Garnett gets to him from the top of the key. All their length is making a mess of his release point. Coming down (only Pau and the parquet know the truth) he finally pushes the ball at the basket. It dribbles over the rim. Pau’s arms stick fists into the rafters (in my opinion that play also stuck #16 up onto the Wall). The team in green is under his feet. The Big Conquistador is leading Los Angeles in our cries of victory.


  31. @gene
    That’s the only debatable statement that you’ve made. Game 7 is almost a tossup between Kobe and Pau, but Kobe’s numbers in that game were just as good as Pau’s except the FG%. That Celtics team was one of the best defensive squads that I can remember- especially against wings.

    You can also go back one series and objectively tell us who was MVP of that series too. Kobe pulled the Suns hearts out.


  32. @kenoak – lol, the mvp for the Lakers in the Suns series 2010 was Jason Richardson when he let ron artest get a game winning layup at the buzzer. I follow Nashes career hence the transition from Suns to the Lakeshow and that blown blockout and subsquent gimme by Artest over Richardson, out of all the bad luck/injuries that prevented the Nash Suns from getting to the Finals, I think that one hurt the most lol.



    Sigh – heart breaking or redemption for Artests’ ill advised 3’s!


  34. harold,

    I’m curious what you liked about the Kobe/Pau teams better than the Kobe/Shaq teams. I think the Kobe/Shaq teams were better and the 2001 team was right up there with some of the all-time great teams in NBA history. That, though, is a judgement of quality. I’m curious that you “liked” the Pau/Kobe teams better as that seems a judgement of entertainment value. Honestly, I loved Shaq’s game. Guys like Fish, Fox, Horry, Shaw and some others were also fun to watch. Those series against San Antonio, Sacramento and Portland were classic but the Kobe/Pau team has one item on the list that may trump it all. They beat the Lepers. Couple that with how much I love LO and those classic Artest moments (not to mention Fish’s clutch shots against ORL, his gash against Scola and Ariza’s plays in the ’09 playoffs) and I may agree with you in terms of favorite teams. I’m just curious what other people on the site have to say about it.

    And please, lets stick to the two sets of Kobe teams. Bringing Showtime and then the West/Chamberlin/Baylor teams into the mix is just unfair to the youngsters. Heck, the kid who wrote this blog entry was in diapers when Shaq ruled the league.


  35. Pau is the rare combination of a gentleman and a great athlete. There are too few of those. I admire him gretly.

    BTW, I don’t see Pau’s recent comments as whining at all. He was speaking his mind and had the courage to do so. He mentioned no names. He said what we’ve all been thinking. And it had to be said.

    I sense dissension spreading through the Lakers’ squad–Gasol, Farmar, J. Hill, Kaman–all veterans, all key players. It seems to be building.

    Something’s gotta give.


  36. Question, if Kobe was playing do you think we would have seen a full on mutiny like last season post ”the talk” where they decided to throw MDAs system out the window

    I think so

    Mitch …. we all hate this guy minus the guys that came the follow the lakers when nash came here … please fire the guy


  37. Pau is a real class act. MDA is….. well…. not likable at all.

    Pau has credibility with his teammates and other NBA players. Pau surely is more appealing to attract top free agents than MDA. Lakers need to sit down with him and work out a reasonable deal to keep him.

    MDA needs to be fired as soon as the season is over. There is just no way this guy can attract any top notch free agent. He is a total disaster. MDA is just the worst coach Lakers have ever had, worse than Del Harris, Randy Pfund, Mike Dunleavy, just out right bad…..


  38. Does anyone else see the connection between 1. Pau’s public comments about a lack of direction, passing, and playing together as a team, (explicitly putting the blame for this on MDA), backed up publicly by Jordan’s comments to the same effect. And 2. Their decision to come up with a gameplan of their own for the second half of the game vs the Grizzlies?
    They gave D’antoni a chance in the first half to provide the coaching and leadership he is supposed to be providing, and when he failed to do so, they did it themselves, and the rest of the team followed suit.
    Pau and Jordan have won multiple NBA championships together, and they have the standing with their teammates to provide this kind of leadership. Complaining? No! Leading their team to play together as a team, YES!


  39. If the Lakers want to keep Pau around, if keeping him is important, then they will probably have to get rid of MDA. Same goes for any post player, really. I think the league is pretty clear about how MDA’s system treats post players. My own bias is gonna show here, as I think post players will always be keys to success for the Lakers. I’m not wild about keeping Pau for much more than $9m a year and I think his defensive mobility is going to remain a problem. In terms of other FA’s or developing a post dominant big, MDA will not do it. Like literally, he will refuse to develop a post dominant big. He’d rather turn his bigs into bench ornaments.


  40. Can’t think of a better individual to play Robin to Kobe’s Batman. He had the perfect temperament. With all that he’s had to put up with over these past few years, he’s conducted himself with dignity and class. That’s one of the reasons, I believe, that Kobe stands up for him the majority of the times.

    Arguably, in his prime, one of the most skilled 7 footers in the history of the league. Definitely wasn’t the most physical individual, but could play with his back to the basket and finish, mind you, with touch, with either hand. Could also face up and due to his athleticism and ball handling skills, blow by a defender. A good jump-shooter, who could convert free throws, and an exceptional passer who sports a high Basketball IQ. And while defense wasn’t – and definitely isn’t now – his strong suit, he wasn’t as bad at it as some pundits made him out to be.

    Simply put, through my eyes, Pau Gasol just happens to be the greatest PF in Laker history. When it’s all said and done, his jersey – like our banners – will be another that’s covered up during Clippers’ home games.


  41. There will not be enough words to show praise for Pau when his time is done. I am, and probably will be the biggest Pau fan. As both a great player and a great person, I treat him as part of “my” Laker rushmore.

    Magic, Kareem, Kobe and Pau.

    Over Shaq?

    Its tough, but I associate Shaq with so many other teams. The one thing that probably did it for me was when he became a member of the Celtics to chase a ring. Don’t get me wrong, telling you my top 4 or anyone for that matter will spur endless debates of “what about Elgin, Mikan, Chamberlain, Worthy, etc.” I will put my rushmore as the top 2 duos of “my” age as these 4 made me fall in love with the game over and over again.

    I caught Magic at the tail end of ’91, that was a time when cable was not generous to the southern part of the Philippines yet. I caught Kareem with betamax tapes and could not stop watching Laker videos of 80’s showtime.

    In college I collected Kobe’s cards. Dare I say Kobe made me my 1st fortune when I caught his Fleer Ultra Platinum (reverse dunk on warmups) 01/100.

    Magic was who made me fall in love with the game. Kareem was the one who just in my young mind then dominated the game with that amazing skyhook. Kobe is Kobe and together with Pau, they assured that I will be a Laker fan for life.


  42. It’s possible that Jimmy Buss feels he’s upholding his father’s wishes by supporting MDA, since it’s been reported that Dr. Buss wanted Dantoni.
    Kupchak is a very good basketball guy so there’s no way he doesn’t see how badly they’re playing.
    He must have been given a gag order by ownership.


  43. That highlight reel is very sentimental. Kobe, Pau, Sasha, Ariza, Odom, Fisher; Faith, Zaira and Mamba24. Damn we were good!!

    I also liked that dunks were in the highlight reel. Pau has some muscle if he’ll use it. And, I would have loved to have seen some of Pau’s 3 point shots in the guard video.

    All in all, though it may be a bit premature, Daniel’s point is solid. Anyone who has been watching knows, Pau has been a solid part of the Lakers’ success for a long time (note he’s still around in Purple and Gold). And, as such, deserves all our respect and gratitude.



  44. He will be a sure HoF’er when you combine his NBA exploits with the international success he had. Plus, since Wilkes shirt is hanging from the rafters, Gasol’s number must be retired as well, as he was more important to those two Lakers titles (and another Finals appearance) than Wilkes was during his time.

    I hope he stays with us for a couple more seasons at a reasonable price and I hope we get a coach who can actually use his skillset.


  45. nice write-up Daniel; dang brother, for such a young cat, you certainly have a talent for this!
    A future Jim Murray? 🙂

    I hope Pau stays and MD´A goes – (I think it was MId who said: he´s just not likeable; he´s got a track record of vindictiveness (see J.Hill this season), & as many have said: most of the team seems to be on the outside looking in, as far as professional respect for the team´s head coach goes.)

    + as one commenter borught up:
    if his complaints help us get rid of MDA, then we owe Pau for yet another good deed.
    Looking forward to the day #16 will hang on The Wall


  46. Great article and lots of great comments.

    For me, 2008-2010 were fabulous and these highlights bring make some amazing memories. On a superficial level, I much prefer angry, determined Pau-face to what we have seen the past few years.

    As much as I have loved Pau on the Lakers, and truly admire the person that he is, I thought he was mentally and emotionally done with the franchise after the 2011 season. Rightly or wrongly, he bore the brunt of the criticism for that year and I did not think he recovered. Seemed as though the FO agreed seeing as they tried to trade him.

    To Pau’s credit, he soldiered on, unlike Lamar. I thought he was physically done after his issues in 2012, which made trading him even more likely in my mind.

    Much to my surprise, Pau appears to have recovered on all fronts. He won’t be the player he was, but I could actually see him fitting in with the Lakers moving forward, albeit at a much lower price and with a different coach. Pairing him with a young, dynamic, athletic PF would allow Pau to flourish and let him mentor a young star. In fact, I would argue that having Pau as a teammate to a first rounder is much more important than having D’Antonio as a coach for that young star.

    Oh well, I’m sure it won’t happen and Pau will leave. Best of luck to him and thanks for both the contributions to the Lakers and his charitable pursuits.


  47. @WWL “Laker Mt Rushmore= Magic, Kareem, Kobe and Pau.”

    Look man…I love Pau as much as the next guy, but Pau over Baylor, Wilt, Worthy, Mikan, and JERRY WEST!? Come on. Coming up with a Mt Rushmore for the Lakers is hard enough, but trying to do so for the entire NBA is downright impossible.

    BTW- here is the remaining schedule:
    vs Sac
    @ Port
    vs NO
    vs Clip
    @ Den
    vs OKC
    @ OKC
    @ SA
    vs SA
    vs Wash
    vs ORL (Any tank you can do…)
    vs NYK
    @ Mil (this one will be fun)
    @ Min
    vs Phx
    vs Port
    @ Sac
    vs Dal
    @ Clip
    vs Hou
    vs GSW
    vs Mem
    @ Utah
    @ SA

    I see a maximum of 8 wins here. We’ll pick up 5 wins with one of them being the last one against a Spurs team that’s resting everyone at that point. 24-58- I can taste that wine already KO!


  48. P. Ami that 2001 Lakers team, the one that “flicked the switch” and went 15-1 in the playoffs after slacking to “just” 56 wins during the regular season was one of the best and most dominant championships teams of all time. The second best Laker team i seen in my lifetime.


  49. 5 years from now Pau will be on the wall and HOF.

    5 years from now MD will be a bad asterisk in Laker history.

    #most consecutive home losses
    #most losses in one season
    #most points given up in one season

    That ‘s called scoreboard baby!


  50. @WWL “Laker Mt Rushmore= Magic, Kareem, Kobe and Pau” lol i love Pau but c’mon now. Btw im sick and tired of this Mt Rushmore thing. That horse has been beaten to dust. Enough already.


  51. Perhaps Darius should anoint a Mt. Rushmore of FBG posters.


  52. Keno: Perhaps we could start a D’Antoni alert. We could cite milestones that are being eclipsed. Randy Pfund has the worst winning percentage in all time Laker history amongst those who have coached 40 games or more. Pfund’s record was 66-80. Pfund had the whopper excuse of all time – as he was the guy asked to coach after “The Announcement”. He compiled a .452 percentage. MD’s record is now 59-71 for a .453 percentage. So MD is about to eclipse Pfund in all time losses and unless we get hot, he will have the worst percentage in All Time Laker History.


  53. @WWL “Laker Mt Rushmore= Magic, Kareem, Kobe and Pau.”

    Look man…I love Pau as much as the next guy, but Pau over Baylor, Wilt, Worthy, Mikan, and JERRY WEST!? Come on. Coming up with a Mt Rushmore for the Lakers is hard enough, but trying to do so for the entire NBA is downright impossible.


    You forgot to read the part where I said: “Don’t get me wrong, telling you my top 4 or anyone for that matter will spur endless debates of “what about Elgin, Mikan, Chamberlain, Worthy, etc.” I will put my rushmore as the top 2 duos of “my” age as these 4 made me fall in love with the game over and over again.”


  54. A team with Farmar, Kobe, Carmelo, Pau, Kaman with a bench of Nash, Henry, Wesley, draft pick (julius randall) and another big in my eyes is top 3 team in the west. We would need a defensive minded coach who would prefer to slow the game down (my vote is jeff van gundy).


  55. hey Daniel:

    pau gasol flourished here in los angeles because he was embraced by kobe bryant. pretty sure he knows it, kobe knows it and the front office once knew it but now chooses to ignore it; at least for the last two and a half years or so. fortunately for the lakers, unfortunately for pau; he was once considered good trade material; not so much these past couple of years. hence: the dilemma for the lakers front office.

    on another note, I believe it would have been incumbent for kobe to have embraced cp3 (moot point) and would have made for some interesting chemistry issues considering both are alpha dogs in the nba. and after witnessing the bad chemistry between Dwight Howard and the no chemistry with Steve Nash, one would have to wonder since we saw little or no embracing whatsoever; if kobe needed to or ever was consulted prior to these trades/acquisitions. same thinking for the hiring of coach brown and to a lesser degree because of the familiarity for coach d’antoni.

    never underestimate the power of a good embrace; especially from the one who’s embrace provides the difference.

    tonite versus the kings at home should make for some interesting exclamations.

    Go lakers


  56. JC,
    Ha! I’d defer on that one, my friend.


  57. david h,
    It is instructive to remember Kobe and Chris Paul were good friends and worked well together on the Olympic teams. Also, Nash and Kobe seem to have a good relationship. Extrapolating from the relationship with Dwight Howard is tenuous at best.

    Kobe would seem to be able to reach out to anyone who gives their all. As to who would dominate and when – well that, indeed, is a good question.


  58. Pau was the right guy to pair with Kobe for a lot of reasons, one being that Pau is a national hero and “Alpha Dog” in Spain, so I expect that he was more comfortable than most Americans would be with Kobe’s status in LA and the US, and found it far less threatening than many American players might.Also, Pau is by pro-jock standards a philosophical, Renaissance Man type of guy, which I think helped as well.

    As to Paul, I think that would have been fine because Paul is the kind of guy who would have been willing to get in Kobe’s grill, wave him off the ball, etc. and Paul is the same age as Howard and has his respect, so I think the whole thing would have worked very well, had the league allowed the trade to go through.


  59. I don’t know that there’s a big rift between D’Antoni and Farmar. I think Jordan likes playing for D’Antoni. He has the freedom to run the offense, and going through Pau in a set offense is not really going against D’Antoni, who just wants good ball movement, spacing, and aggressive scorers. Playing for this coach puts a lot on the players to make decisions, and Farmar is just smart and experienced enough to look for what works best. I think his comments about the team lacking identity had more to do with the need to get the new and returning players on the same page than a dig at the coach. Pau, OTOH, is not happy with the philosophy and system as a whole, and was implying that discipline and better strategy needs to come from the top.


  60. Craig W/rr: all together now: damn you david stern.

    Go lakers


  61. the other Stephen February 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Interesting. Via SI’s Richard Deitsch, who is presumably at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: “Asked for the top negotiators in the NBA, @dmorey immediately said Mitch Kupchak of @Lakers. #SSAC14.”

    I don’t know if the Lakers have started sending delegations to the conference or not, but at least Jeanie’s in attendance (participating in the “Business of Sports: Winning Off the Field,” and “The Changing Nature of Media Rights” panels).


  62. Kobe and Nash have a good relationship – based on mutual respect. Kobe even called Nash to say that the two of them on the court would work together when the whole intial trade was going down. The prob is that the two of them have shared in reality hardly any time on the court together healthy over the last two years.

    As for percieved Nash/Howard lack of chemistry – i think a lot of that has to do with Nash (when he was available to play – doing his best to involve everyone and giving the ball to whoever was best positioned to score etc… instead of calling Howards # every time down the court. Nash is pretty diplomatic about all of his coaches/past teammates and usually speaks pretty nicely about all guys – even Terry Porter who tried hard to destruct what the Phx Suns were based around – but he’s always been pretty curt about Howard – and given that him and Kobe are two of the most prepared/professional guys in the NBA I think Howard’s lackadasical attitude despite wanting the keys to the castle rubbed em both the wrong way by the end.


  63. Pau was a fantastic fit for the late PJ era Lakers – if for no other reason, he fit into the Lakers offense like he’d been playing it since childhood.


  64. Other Stephen

    Lakers have 3 guys who work the new stat analysis as of 2 years ago and Phil is speaking at conference.


  65. Jerke,
    Thanks for the link. I read it last summer, but with all the comments flying around here it was good to reread it again.

    I agree, it is not in Nash’s nature to throw anyone under the bus. However, he went about as far as he ever has in that discussion about Dwight Howard. The comment, “He didn’t seem like he really wanted to do a pick-and-roll offense, maybe because he had run one in Orlando for so long and he wanted to get in the post more”, really is telling in describing how Howard subtly sabotaged the Lakers last year. It is not so much in what he did do as what he didn’t do. Another telling part of the interview was, “Ultimately, I think Dwight wasn’t comfortable here and didn’t want to be here, and I think if he didn’t want to be here, there’s no point for anyone in him being here,”

    All this indicates that a teammate of Dwight’s, someone who was respected around the league for his leadership, didn’t feel Dwight was the right person for this team or this time. Not anyone’s fault, but just the way it is. If we accept this viewpoint, then the front office did what they could and this was just fated not to work.


  66. I think MDAs days as a Laker coach are numbered – rightfully or wrongfully, at this stage it does not matter: he has become a symbol of what went wrong this season and last and, sadly, I think he will be gone as a result. If I am correct in that assessment, the FO may wish to part ways with him before the end of the season if only to raise the hope that perhaps we can convince Pau to stick around for a couple of more seasons (at a bargain price of course). However, I’m not sure if Pau is willing to give the FO a home-team discount.


  67. Kevin Ding linked to this on twitter.

    Honestly, I do not rule renew, but I’m open to all options. The criterion is purely sporting. It can not be otherwise. I want to be on a team with real aspirations ring and where my contribution will serve to win or at least compete for it. I want to win another championship. The economic aspect is secondary right now in my career. -Pau Gasol

    I believe Gasol when he says this. If there is a way to keep him *and keep our flexibility in free agency over the next couple years, then we should keep the spaniard and have him retire as a Laker.


  68. Again: Howard has stated publicly that he wanted to play for Phil. We don’t know for sure if

    a) Phil would’ve taken the gig. He has said recently that he didn’t think he would have, but that was not how it looked at the time.
    b) Howard would have stayed if Phil had been here.

    So, sure, it might not have worked no matter what the FO did. But the FO chose to hire MDA and then chose to keep him after it was clear that Howard didn’t like him.

    There are those who believe that doing so cost the team Dwight Howard and there is no way to prove that it did. There are also those who believe that this is mostly on Howard. But just hand-waving the whole thing away and giving the FO and MDA a total free pass is also a very shaky assertion to make, and really has nothing more behind it than going the other way does.


  69. @craig – yeah those are pretty damning comments when Nash says you aren’t a good fit – considering Nash made it work w/ Amare/Shaq/ Tim thomas/Shawn marion/vince carter etc… that sorta says a lot.


  70. @sufian, That team you described is #3 in the West? I’m pretty sure one still needs to play defense to be good in the West, or the NBA in general. You just put Kobe, Melo, Pau (especially at the 4) and Kaman in the starting lineup. Those are four defensive liabilities. Nobody will call Farmar a stopper, let alone the kind of guy who can cover for 4, past their prime players that either never played defense or lost the foot speed to do so. Then you rotate Nash in and want to draft Randall, a four who does not protect the paint. That team probably makes the playoffs but to consider them a top 3 team in the West is pretty far fetched.

    @Fern, that 2001 team was probably the best team of the last 15 years. I would love to see how the Bulls would have handled them. Horace Grant, being a position to know, thinks Jordan would have figured out how to turn the tide, but that was the one factor he felt tilted it in their favor.


  71. rr,
    No one is giving anybody a free pass. However, it is certainly not reasonable to blame this all on the coach or the front office, either.

    There have been numerous indications that Dwight preferred teams like the Nets or Rockets before the trade was made. However, the front office believed it was worth the trade – and I agree. They knew full well the risk with Bynum and they probably made the best deal possible.

    Looking back and blaming it all on the coach is really rubbish. Dwight didn’t talk about Phil until after the fact – and after he had resisted any type of pick-and-roll offense with Steve Nash, of all people. From my point-of-view, Dwight took the easiest way out in talking about the situation, which he has done a number of times. He is a good player, but must be playing in a very structured environment that he approves of – due to the fact that he pouts, rather than leads. This, more than anything else, is what makes him a #2 player on a team.


  72. However, it is certainly not reasonable to blame this all on the coach or the front office, either.

    I don’t think many people here are doing that. A few do, and I disagree with many points they make. As to the free pass thing, here are your words:

    then the front office did what they could and this was just fated not to work.


    Whatever one thinks of what Nash said, the fact remains that FO could have done some other things; they chose not to. You are certainly entitled to agree with what they did do and to call out excessive criticism, but what the FO and MDA do affects the organization–fundamentally. And the Lakers are arguably in as bad a shape as any organization in the NBA.

    Just look at it this way: fast forward to March 1, 2016 and imagine a Lakers team built around Lowry, Wiggins, Love and a rejuvenated Kobe having made it back to relevance. Will you attribute most of that to good luck and not give the FO credit for much of it? Perhaps, but I would bet against it, based on your track record.

    As to Howard, you have made that point in various forms many, many times, and I am sure that you will do so again. But again, the facts are that according to most observers, Howard remains one of the 15-20 best players in the NBA, is a key guy on a contender, and the Lakers (for many reasons) have devolved into the worst team in the Western Conference since his departure. In that context, focusing on Howard’s faults seems rather pointless, not to mention petty.