Gasol: My connection with Bryant was beyond friendship

By Antonio Martín Guirado

Madrid, Jun 16 (EFE).- It was the seventh game of the NBA final in 2010. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, the two largest basketball dynasties in the United States, came face to face for Pau Gasol’s most intense match ever.

It was a happy ending: “I ended almost in a state of shock,” the Spanish basketball legend tells Efe as he recalls the events.

In the first quarter of the June 17 match the game was close and Kobe Bryant’s performance erratic, paving the way for the Celtics to outscore the Lakers 6–1.

Boston held the Lakers to only 14 points and took a 23–14 lead ending the first quarter.

But the comeback was unforgettable with moves like Ron Artest hitting 3 of his 4 free throws or Gasol’s own basket over Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with 1:30 minutes to go.

“I think that in those moments the identity, the character and the union of that team come to light,” Gasol says.

“We showed enormous cohesion; a strength, a conviction in ourselves, and we did not give up even though things were not going well for us. We were not playing our best,” he adds.

Fatigue and nerves had set in after a very hard series.

And they were battling past ghosts when in 2008 Boston beat the Lakers in the final.

But the 20,000 fans filling the Staples Center fueled the defending champions (who beat Orlando Magic in 2009) to seize a victory again.

“Emotions were very intense and the pressure was very great. We were down on the scoreboard, but we kept working, fighting every possession and we managed to win an epic and historic game for everyone,” Gasol recalls.

“I remember that feeling of satisfaction, joy, euphoria and maximum emotion. I have never competed in a match as intense as that.

“After that game, it took me hours to sleep and it wasn’t because I was out celebrating. I was almost in a state of shock, absorbing and digesting what we had just experienced,” the starter adds.

Despite Bryant shooting 6 for 24 from the field, he was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.

“During the pandemic, I saw the game for the first time in its entirety and I was very moved because Kobe spoke a few words to me at the end, when they gave him the award, which I did not hear at the time,” Gasol says.

“I can’t say enough about the Spaniard. The man was unbelievable. We couldn’t have won it without him,” Bryant said when receiving his award.

The legendary LA player praised Gasol throughout the years.

In 2018 Bryant told Efe: “There’s no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine.”

“The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau.”

Related Articles

Back to top button