Pau Gasol recently opened up about his relationship with the late great Kobe Bryant and how they influenced each other throughout the years of being teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. They trusted each other and developed a relationship built on trust that translated to success on the basketball court.
Kobe helped Pau elevate his game
In an excellent interview for Fox Sports, Pau Gasol talked about multiple things from his career and personal life. Desperate to surround Kobe with additional help, the Lakers got Pau through an unbelievable trade for almost nothing in return. Since making that trade, they immediately became a title contender, went to 3 straight NBA Finals, winning two championships in a row.
Throughout their playing time together, they quickly became one of the best dynamic duos in the NBA at the time, and it was Kobe who initially challenged Pau to become a better version of himself on the floor. Pau was able to see firsthand what made Kobe one of the greatest basketball players with his unbelievable commitment and work ethic.
"I learned firsthand what it meant to be the best," Gasol said of playing with Bryant, a five-time champion in his 20-season career. "The effort, the commitment [and] the work ethic he had was unparalleled. It inspired so many players, not just on his team but beyond his team. It inspired a generation, probably multiple generations of players that we see today."
Pau was initially criticized for being too soft, especially in that first finals series against the Boston Celtics. He changed his mindset because of Kobe, who pushed him to the limits and made him into one of the greatest power forwards during that period. Subsequently, as their relationship grew and they became closer, Pau believes Kobe learned a thing or two from him as well.
"A close person to him told me that I taught him еmpathy, which is something that I guess I'm honored and proud of to share that with him," Gasol said.
Pau is not mad for not being on the NBA Top 75 list
Pau is definitely one of the most accomplished international players in NBA history, with numerous individual and team accolades under his name. He won it all not just in the NBA but for his Spanish national team as well. Still, he didn't get selected among the NBA's 75 Greatest Players, an omission that was widely considered a snub. Pau is okay with not being on the list and doesn't care much about them anyways.
"I don't really care too much about lists," he said. "I think, to a certain degree, they're very subjective. I'm really happy about how I played through my NBA career and the impact that I've had on my teams and teammates, and that's what I care about. Lists, at the end of the day, are to create maybe a little controversy or a little talk here and there, and that's OK. That's part of the sport, and that's how it should be. So I'm not offended by any means. And if I would've been on the list, I wouldn't think that I'm better than some of the many other great players that are not on the list."