Marc Gasol needs to step up for the Los Angeles Lakers against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers
The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers may figure to be an NBA Finals preview, as both teams are currently atop in their respective conferences. The one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death will loom large when the Lakers visit Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to take on the 76ers (game starts at 4:30 PM PST on ESPN).
All I must ask of ESPN is to make the main focus of this game is on the game itself, not on Kobe’s death. I cannot speak for anyone but myself when I say this, but I do not want commentators spending the whole game reliving the horrific tragedy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s death. It is not right for fans to have to relive the tragedy all over again while watching the game.
Somebody close to Kobe was former Lakers big man Pau Gasol. Pau and Kobe had a longstanding friendship dating back to their time as teammates. Pau’s younger brother, Marc, signed with the Lakers this offseason in part to keep a lighthearted promise Kobe made to him.
Pau was so close to Kobe that his daughter’s middle name is Gianna. I cannot speak for how Kobe’s death has affected Marc, but I take him at his word when he said he did not feel comfortable discussing the matter.
Marc did his best to answer a question asked by a Chicago reporter after the Lakers win against the Bulls last Saturday. Marc was apologetic when trying to address the matter when asked a follow-up question (the reporter did not take the hint).
Gasol went on to elaborate a little bit further after the follow-up question.
"“He will always be a part of, not only the team, but the franchise, the city,” Gasol said. “For each player … it’s very emotional. He was obviously someone that we looked up to. Sorry. Sorry I could not give you a better answer.”"
In light of the reporter’s question stirring up all this grief, Marc Gasol answered the reporter’s questions with grace and dignity. The Gasol brothers are class acts, dating back to their charity work at St Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
It is unfair to judge Marc Gasol (or anyone else) on how he is processing Kobe’s death, but it is absolutely fair to judge his on-court performance.