Top NBA Players: #17 Pau Gasol

Apr 18, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) dunks past Golden State Warriors center Mickell Gladness (32) during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Pau Gasol
Resume: 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds (7th in league), 3.7 assists, 1.4 blocks, 37.4 minutes (7th in league), 42 double-doubles (3rd in league), 50% FG, and 78% FT… Team record in games played: 41-24 (0-1 without)… Playoffs: 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 43% FG, 5-7 record

To start, I ask you to take two minutes of your time and watch this video.

Why did I ask you to watch that video? Well first of all, it’s arguably the funniest two minutes of unintentional comedy you could possibly find on YouTube. Seriously, this isn’t an exaggeration and it’s pretty sad that this is the truth, but I’ve watched that video about 100-150 times in the 4 and a half years it’s been on YouTube. Let’s assume I’ve watched it 125 times, which is a sad realization that my life revolves wayyyyyyyyy too much around basketball. That means I’ve spent approximately 250 minutes of my life watching Stephen A. Smith launch a verbal onslaught against Kwame Brown.  That’s over four hours. As I brought it up again and was watching it in my living room, my Dad walked by me and overheard “They gave up KWAME BROWN” and it of course elicited laughter. The only people who won’t find that video funny are people without souls, Memphis Grizzlies fans, or the immediate family of Kwame Brown. Even some of his 2nd cousins are laughing at that video though.

The second reason I asked you to watch that video is because it remains the distinguishing moment of one of the most blatant short-term trade heists in NBA history, and the start of the Laker resurrection which has resulted in Kobe Bryant being just one title away from having as many rings as Michael Jordan. The Pau trade set forth a motion that the days of winning a title with just one star player were just about passed, and the days of winning a title with Kwame Brown, Chris Mihm and Smush Parker playing key roles never even existed.

The Los Angeles Lakers absolutely stole Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies, and anyone who says otherwise is full of crap. There was no way of telling that Marc Gasol would materialize into an All-Star level center, and we all knew Kwame Brown was never going to be anything more than a bonafide scrub. Pau is arguably the most impressive and versatile offensively skilled big man in the entire world; someone who can score in a variety of ways, and really score at will when he is completely engaged. Why does Spain have so much success in the Olympics? Sure, it has something to do with the fact that they have anywhere from 9-12 current, former or future NBA players on their roster at a given time. But the majority of the credit has to be given to Pau Gasol, who becomes the most dominant low post player in the world when he is wearing the Spain uniform.

Why doesn’t Pau Gasol constantly bring that kind of effort in Los Angeles? You could make the argument that Kobe Bryant taking thirty shots and constantly scolding him might have something to do with that. But remember what I said about Steve Nash yesterday?  If I’m Steve Nash I’m worried about getting the ball to Kobe Bryant first so he doesn’t murder somebody, then Pau Gasol, and then Dwight Howard. Howard is used to taking 11 shots per game for his career and he was playing with a supporting cast that was as good as a crap filled pot pie for a few years. Should Dwight Howard get more shots than Pau Gasol? Is that a trick question?