From Erickson Beco, MB.com: Spanish National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar Pau Gasol has been in the business for quite some time now. He may not be the typical NBA power forward as what characterizes the previous crop of the league’s stars (and largely, maybe, owing to the European brand of play where big men literally play with grace and finesse), but his efficient and effective play is definitely a delightful answer in ever coach’s dream. What is remarkable with the 7-footer Gasol is the continuous development in almost all aspects of his game despite playing alongside one of the sport’s icons today by the name of Kobe Bryant.
From Bangalore, Deccan Herald: Despite logging in with impressive performances for seven seasons at the FedEx Forum, Gasol was a relative unknown, but all that changed with the trade, which was the biggest move in NBA history until Lebron James’ move to the Heat this year. Gasol, who was brought in to fill the void left by Shaquille O’ Neal’s move to the Miami Heat, guided the Lakers to the NBA Finals in 2008 — which they lost to Boston Celtics — and helped them add two more championships, to their already swollen overall tally of 15, in 2009 and 2010. “That was a very big move for my career,” said the 30-year-old Gasol, who was in Mumbai on Wednesday to conduct an NBA Clinic. “The move got me the championship rings. We worked really hard and it was an amalgamation of a brilliant bunch of things that made us this good.”
From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Big men don’t get more versatile than this guy. He’s bad at absolutely nothing, and top gear in just about everything. Scores with either hand on either block. Dominates from the high post. Nails cutters, sets screens and finishes off the good or bad pass. He can play defense now, he’s worked his way into becoming a fierce rebounder and his brain is bigger than our brains are. Even with Tim Duncan’s history, his smarts, his ability and his formidable all-around play, there isn’t a power forward in this league that I think can help me win more than Pau Gasol. He just does things too excellently too often to overlook.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: When Artest signed with the Lakers before last season, some were concerned the team took a step backwards, trading the youth, potential, and non-craziness of Trevor Ariza for the older, um… eccentric Ron Ron. Would he play his role? Would he be a distraction? Would he snap at some inopportune moment, putting the crazy back in Crazy Pills? In order, yes, no, and no. Not that the year was devoid of Artestian color. There were haircuts, a smorgasbord of Tweets, the Great Christmas Night Fall, interviews on national television conducted without pants, and more. It was capped with, quite simply, the greatest press conference ever. (I’m still trying to figure out how to make “Acknowledge me!” my ringtone.) It’s not like the guy suddenly became boring- he is and will likely remain a gift to the local media- but anyone waiting for him to rip the team apart was disappointed.
From Shaun Powell, NBA.com: The physics-inspired theory that says what goes up must come down applies to everything except two gravity-challenged items: weight gain and those retired Celtics jerseys hanging in the rafters. Even Shaquille O’Neal, a devoted follower of Aristotle, would agree to this philosophy. We won’t make any jokes about his heft; he can be quite sensitive about that. But with regard to his new team, the Celtics, Shaq has already discovered a change in uniform number will be in order, because of circumstances. He can’t wear his usual 33, which was Larry Bird’s number. He can’t go for 32, his choice in Miami and Phoenix, because it’s held in honor of Kevin McHale. And he can’t wear the 34 he wore in Los Angeles, because that belongs to the Truth, Paul Pierce. All of this talk about jersey numbers raises an interesting debate: Will Shaq, surely one of the top five centers of all time, ever have his jersey number retired? And if so, by whom?
From Chuck Schilken, LA Times: The Celtics may have a slight lead over the Lakers in NBA championships, 17-16, but which of the two storied franchises would win if their all-time best players and coaches squared off? According to the Bleacher Report, it’s the Lakers. After comparing each team’s all-time best players (at their peak), position by position, and doing the same with the coaches, the site gave the Lakers a 4-2 advantage. The Lakers edge the Celtics at center (“Shaq playing at his peak level would be the most dominant force. Boston would have no one that could effectively stop him one-on-one”), shooting guard (“Behind Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Jerry West are the best shooting guards in the league’s history”), point guard (“A great aspect of the Lakers’ backcourt is its versatility.