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Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour continues as the Bulls visit the Lakers on Thursday in what will be one of the final battles between Bryant his former teammate Pau Gasol.
A few nights ago Bryant told us that his favorite team was the 2008-09 Lakers because they had such a tight bond. One of the players Kobe was closest with was Gasol. If the Lakers hadn’t acquired the Spaniard big man back in 2008, the Mamba may not have had five championships.
Throughout his run with the Lakers, Gasol was always in trade rumours and never really had any assurance from the front office that he’d be with the team by the end of the season. He ultimately left for the Bulls in free agency during the summer of 2014.
Kobe says that Gasol never really got the respect he deserved while in L.A. and also took a shot at Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball offence. Via ESPN:
“I thought that it was really silly and I felt bad for him going through all that stuff,” Bryant said Tuesday before the Lakers faced the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. “That’s why I defended him so much.
“I think the city of L.A. didn’t really appreciate what he did and what we had, and so as a consequence, everybody kind of fell in line with the [former Lakers coach] Mike D’Antoni rhetoric of small ball and all this other bulls—. For a guy that has two championships to be treated that way, you don’t do that, man.”
Bryant called Gasol “one of the best post players of all time. Fantastic player.”
Bryant said his main memory of Gasol is a conversation the two had in February 2008, when Gasol first joined the Lakers after being acquired in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I immediately went to his room at the hotel — we were staying on the same floor — [and] I went to his room, we had about a 30-, 40-minute conversation,” Bryant said. “That’s the thing I remember the most because that was the beginning.”