Playing for the L.A. Lakers is never easy. From the moment you put on that purple and gold greatness is expected. Making matters even worse, once you’ve shown said greatness it is expected every night.
Pau Gasol has flashed plenty of brilliance during his Laker tenure. Then something happened last season.
The Gasol that was being hailed as the best big in the game reverted to the soft and temperamental player that was pushed around by the C’s back in’08.
Was it because of all the minutes Gasol was logging early on last season while Andrew Bynum recovered? Were those rumors of Pau’s heartbreak the true cause for his playoff collapse?
We may never know and better yet at this point it doesn’t really matter. In life, all you’ve got is right now. What happened is over and done with and all you can do is affect change for the future.
After his postseason meltdown, Gasol did the best thing possible – he got right back on the horse. Gasol was instrumental in leading Spain to its second consecutive Euro title this summer. Certainly that had to help quell some of his woes.
From the Lakers’ perspective the hope had to be that Pau would return to form thanks to a renewed taste of victory. After all, it worked for Lamar Odom who had the best season of his career after playing for the U.S. in the FIBA world championships last offseason.
Thus far Gasol has been good but not exactly great in the early stages of this hectic season.
For many teams, having a big man dropping 16 points, pulling down 9 boards wile blocking 2.5 shots per game would be ideal production. Problem is we all know what Gasol is capable of so those numbers are nice but nice never won a title.
If the Lake Show has any chance of hanging another banner then the Spaniard will have to step his game up.
Pau needs to play like he’s got something to prove. Even if he’s still trying to put the Chris Paul ordeal behind him he’d be better served to play out of his mind. By doing so, Gasol will do much more for himself than by pulling a Lamar and sulking into a rushed trade.
So far Pau has been nothing but professional with the way he’s handled trade talk. Still, you’d love to see him play every night with a chip on his shoulder.
Having weathered the storm again in the absence of Bynum, Pau’s minutes could lessen. Forget about catching your breath during these crammed weeks. Pau is also pacing the Lakers with 35 minutes of burn a night.
I’m sure Mike Brown has a plan to manage Gasol’s minutes. The real question is does Coach Brown have a scheme to get the most out of Gasol? Not even the fists of Phil Jackson could pound a pride-filled performance out of Pau last season. Hopefully it won’t come to that this time around.
We’ve seen the best of Pau and we know he’s got plenty left in the tank. So far so good but that just isn’t quite good enough. At least not by Laker standards it isn’t.