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“It’s okay to be vulnerable or soft at times”-How Pau Gasol brought out Kobe Bryant's soft side

Because of Pau Gasol’s influence, Bryant’s soft and charismatic side was unleashed.
Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant

Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant

We’ve often talked about how Kobe Bryant brought out the killer instinct of Pau Gasol and pushed him to be a relentless player on the court. For as much credit the Black Mamba deserves in turning Gasol into a Los Angeles Laker legend, it’s important to point out that Gasol impacted Bryant just as much — and even more if you look at it from a human standpoint. The 2-time champion played a massive role in bringing out the soft and heartwarming side of Bryant’s personality.

Pau’s kindness was contagious.

What sets Gasol aside amongst the best Lakers legends is his kind and humble personality on and off the court. Being kind and humble on the court often gives a basketball player a bad look because it denotes that they don’t have that “dawg” or fire in them. But Gasol was one of the best players to prove that it’s okay to be both soft (in terms of personality) and at the same time tough on the court.

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According to Pau, his kind and warm personality helped Bryant open up off the court and really turned him into a family-oriented man.

“He’s a big brother I never had. He had a very kind and loving side. I think that’s something I influence in a way. I said it’s okay to be normal, to be vulnerable or soft at times. He was trying to be the best father in the world. He embraced his daughters. That kindness, that softness, that love from a dad to a daughter,” Gasol said in an ESPN tribute video for Bryant.

As it has been well-documented, Bryant was an introvert and reserved player during his early playing years. Even his coach and mentor, Phil Jackson, once said that Kobe preferred to stay by himself and never really opened up to his teammates off the court. This was especially true with his love-hate relationship with Shaquille O’Neal, but that somewhat changed when Gasol arrived in Los Angeles. Because of Gasol’s influence, Bryant’s soft and charismatic side was unleashed.

How Pau saved Kobe’s legacy

Before Gasol’s arrival, Bryant was steadfast in leaving Los Angeles because he felt that organization wasn’t putting him in a position to succeed. These days, nobody recalls how much Bryant wanted out, and it’s all because he eventually decided to stay in L.A., thanks in large part to Gasol. Both Kobe and Pau pioneered themselves as one of the best and most accomplished duos in NBA history as they went to 3 straight Finals (won 2 of them) in their first 3 years together.

This is also one significant reason why Gasol’s jersey will soon hang in the rafters alongside several Lakers legends. Gasol saved Bryant’s legacy in Los Angeles and helped him not just be a 5-time champion but also the greatest Laker of all time. Without Pau, Kobe wouldn’t be the man he was on and off the basketball court.

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