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Gasol working hard for not being called ''Gasoft''


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#1 Sakata Gintoki

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 03:36 AM

Pau Gasol rocked back and forth on his giant feet, smiling, pleasant, distracted.

"You have somewhere else to be?" I said.

"After this interview, yes," he said.

"Where?" I said.

"The weight room," he said.

I gasped. I froze. I could not have been more shocked had Pau Gasol told me he was going to a barbershop.

Weights? Him? When?

"Two or three times a week, since the start of training camp," he said. "I've never really done it before, but I've got to do it now."

Oh. So he heard.

He heard last spring's cries of "Gasoft." He heard Lakers fans accusing him of disappearing under the weight of Garnett and green. He heard himself being blamed for the NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics.

He stopped rocking and stared down at me, his soft eyes quickly turning hard.

"I heard it a lot," he said, his voice rising. "I heard it too much."



A brief chronological synopsis of my Christmas afternoon.

1) Three hours berating Pau Gasol.

2) Three minutes blessing him.

Even today, I'm not quite sure which time was better spent, but I do know that I am not alone in my confusion.

What Lakers fan did not react with disgust as Gasol was bumped and grinded through the first 3 1/2 quarters against a Celtics team that once again played wicked witch to his scarecrow?

Yet what Lakers fan did not rise from the couch cheering when Gasol finally stiffened, scoring seven consecutive points with two blocked shots in the final 2:47 to break open a tie game and give the Lakers the victory?

He not only played hard, he celebrated hard, shouting to the skies, flexing his arms in hulk fashion, looking like someone else entirely.

Someone with, you know, muscles.

"It was like a switch went on," Gasol said.

And now we're all wondering, will it stay on?

Will this marvelously intelligent finesse player stay tough enough to help the Lakers survive through June?

Will Pau -- pronounced "pow" -- finally live up to his first name?

"Hey, I'm trying to knock the crap out of them too," he said.

He didn't talk like this last season. He said he didn't know what the Lakers needed last season.

"My style of play, more of a finesse style, I thought it was enough," he said.

Then, against Boston last June, succumbing to a week's worth of pile drivers, he realized it wasn't.

In the Game 6 Celtics clincher, playing with an intimidated style that was typical of the series, Gasol had more turnovers (5) than baskets (4), the Celtics won by 39, and you can guess what happened next.

"They brought an intensity to the series, we couldn't respond to it, so we got blamed for it," he said, "No, I got blamed for it."

He spent the summer trying to figure out how to change. How does a genuinely nice, sophisticated guy from a privileged background suddenly challenge the scowling, cursing, streetwise Kevin Garnett?

"Well, I could never curse like that," he said.

OK, well, what about the other stuff?

"I'm sure if I had more mean blood in me, more mean motivation, I could act like more of a jerk," he said. "But I can't try to be something I'm not.

"It just won't work."

The Lakers understand this.

"He's not going to elbow anybody in the face, get in somebody's face and yell at them, or outmuscle somebody," Coach Phil Jackson said. "That's not who he's going to be."

So instead of trying to re-create him into a tough guy, the Lakers and Gasol worked on him being a tougher version of himself.

"Resiliency," Jackson said. "That's the thing we kept telling him. You don't have to outmuscle guys . . . [but] you still have to have a resiliency."

Derek Fisher put it another way.

"Toughness is not defined by how you look," the point guard said. "It's defined by how you focus, and Pau has found that focus."

Jackson knows Gasol will never intimidate anyone for an entire game. He'll settle for moments, the end-of-game moments when everybody is throwing down and nobody is calling fouls and the toughness shows not in punches, but in points.

The weight training is designed for those moments.

"We're trying to build strength," Jackson said. "So those rebounds and those loose balls, those little drives to the hoop that end up being a little more physical at the end of games, [those] will be plays that he can make."

After making those plays Thursday, Gasol spent Friday being paid for them. As he strolled the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, fans showered him with their thanks.

"Fans coming up to me, thanking me for their Christmas gift, telling me that I made their Christmas special, that means so much to me," said Gasol, who is as sentimental as he is smart.

You can tell he would rather be hanging out at the beach than with the barbells. But you can also tell that, at this point in his career, he no longer feels he has a choice.

"This is not about me, it's about winning a championship, and whatever it takes, I will do it," he said.

As Saturday's interview ended, a Lakers official appeared from behind the weight room door, beckoning Gasol.

He sighed.

"I'm coming!" he said.

I believe he is.

#2 Imadogg

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 04:04 AM

I was [expletive] when the Lakers won on xmas.

Go Pau! Hell yea

#3 Maddocks

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 04:09 AM

time for him to look like gashaq soon :nervous:

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never you hear the discouraging lies
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#4 Rick

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 07:41 AM

I like Pau, I like just about everything about him, his melancholy personality, IQ, mad skills. I haven't really spent much time giving him the credit he deserves, so major props to Pau for being the best player on our team, with the most class to boot.

#5 Nak

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 08:10 AM

I love it.

Arguably the greatest franchise ever


#6 JEN

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 08:39 AM

time for him to look like gashaq soon :nervous:


hahaha that would be great for the team

Edited by JenFlowDesignz, December 28, 2008 - 08:39 AM.


#7 kobynum

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 09:01 AM

Pau is an incredible player and now if adds a little strength to his game, it SHOULD enhance him to an All-star level, but Rick(Fox)...Kobe has been the best, he took a few weeks to "chill" while still being a top 5 player, but now the Mamba is back, and Kobe is by far the best thang smokin for the purple and gold
Again - this team, as currently constructed won't make it out of the second round of the playoffs, let alone the West or win the Finals.---fido on 2011 Lakers

#8 Game

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 12:20 PM

good article, but you need to cite sources man...i believe this is from LA times...here, read this for more information on how to properly post articles from other sites -

http://lakernation.c...?showtopic=6060

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#9 rissa missa

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 12:34 PM

Great article! it's admirable that he takes it as constructive criticism and is willing to improve. :pau:


#10 daco_inc

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 12:40 PM

Hasn't he been known as Gasoft since before he came to the Lakers? As much as I appreciate his determination to get stronger, I'm equally disappointed that he's "really never done it before".

#11 kobynum

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 01:33 PM

^ why are u dissapointed about his techniques in the past, it only affected the Lakers for one year, futhermore he probably would have not got traded here if he were STRONG physically, not to mention if he already was pumping iron and was still physically weaker than most at his position
Again - this team, as currently constructed won't make it out of the second round of the playoffs, let alone the West or win the Finals.---fido on 2011 Lakers

#12 daco_inc

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 04:40 PM

You serious? It only affected us one year in which we reached the finals only to lose, and one of the main reasons for losing was lack of toughness in the paint. You don't see the problem with being in the league for his 9th season and only now deciding to hit the weight room to get stronger? I don't care who the person is and what team they play for. Guys who get paid millions of dollars to play should always be finding ways to improve their game. Even if Pau improved himself individually, his team was still bad in Memphis. He would've had the same team accomplishments as he did now, and still would've been known as a one and done playoff guy.

#13 Guest_Chicano_*

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:37 PM

Great article, thanks for posting. Kobe's still far & away the best Laker, but Pau in my mind, has been the most consistent this season so far throughout. Great job Pau, keep it up!

#14 Rene

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:42 PM

You serious? It only affected us one year in which we reached the finals only to lose, and one of the main reasons for losing was lack of toughness in the paint. You don't see the problem with being in the league for his 9th season and only now deciding to hit the weight room to get stronger? I don't care who the person is and what team they play for. Guys who get paid millions of dollars to play should always be finding ways to improve their game. Even if Pau improved himself individually, his team was still bad in Memphis. He would've had the same team accomplishments as he did now, and still would've been known as a one and done playoff guy.

Pau Gasol is always going to be "soft." That's just a natural trait, he's always looking to avoid the contact, that just him. But at the same time, you're criticizing Gasol way to much. You don't think Pau Gasol has been finding ways to improve his game? Okay, maybe he hasn't improved the toughness facet of his game, but he does so many other things better. Lack of toughness in the paint, take into consideration that Garnett is considerably better than Pau Gasol. Take into consideration that Duncan is considerably better than Pau Gasol. Why do I bring these guys up? It's going to be very, and I mean very, tough to compete with those elites, at those stages in their career. You don't expect second tier guards to keep up with Kobe Bryant, do you? So why would you expect (at the time) a second tier Center/PF to keep up with the elites of the position? Now don't get me wrong, Pau could definitely compete with them, but more than likely, he'll be out-performed.

In reference to you criticizing Pau in Memphis, that was more of a team issue. Now if you don't think Pau is worth the money he's getting paid (which I think you're slightly implying), that's a whole different story that you and I can discuss. Pau is not some stupid player, who is barely finding out that he needs to be tough. I think he realized that for quite a while, but as I mentioned earlier, it's just natural in him. He's always going to shy away from the contact, that's Pau.

Edited by Rene, December 28, 2008 - 11:47 PM.


#15 lakerlove1989

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:48 PM

I never called him Gasoft and i'm proud of it, i knew he would get blamed but really it's not his fault, he was going up against 2 7 footers with a scrawny frame when Boston was very physical down low, but with bynum in the line-up the green team can't gang up on Gasol because they have to deal with another big strong body.
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#16 lbj23witness

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:49 PM

I can bench more than Pau.

#17 lakerlove1989

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:56 PM

I can bench more than Pau.

i highly doubt that, he may look scrawny but he is strong, it's not easy to have someone on your back fouling you and still have the strength to go back up and finish.
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#18 LALDynasty

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Posted December 28, 2008 - 11:57 PM

Pau is a Godsend.... that's my opinion...we would still have butterfingers if it wasn't for the trade. and we got our captain to thank..cause he spoke up if he wouldn't have we would probably still be a 7th 8th seed team right now.

Edited by m4mb4 24, December 28, 2008 - 11:58 PM.

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#19 daco_inc

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Posted December 29, 2008 - 12:53 AM

Pau Gasol is always going to be "soft." That's just a natural trait, he's always looking to avoid the contact, that just him. But at the same time, you're criticizing Gasol way to much. You don't think Pau Gasol has been finding ways to improve his game? Okay, maybe he hasn't improved the toughness facet of his game, but he does so many other things better. Lack of toughness in the paint, take into consideration that Garnett is considerably better than Pau Gasol. Take into consideration that Duncan is considerably better than Pau Gasol. Why do I bring these guys up? It's going to be very, and I mean very, tough to compete with those elites, at those stages in their career. You don't expect second tier guards to keep up with Kobe Bryant, do you? So why would you expect (at the time) a second tier Center/PF to keep up with the elites of the position? Now don't get me wrong, Pau could definitely compete with them, but more than likely, he'll be out-performed.

In reference to you criticizing Pau in Memphis, that was more of a team issue. Now if you don't think Pau is worth the money he's getting paid (which I think you're slightly implying), that's a whole different story that you and I can discuss. Pau is not some stupid player, who is barely finding out that he needs to be tough. I think he realized that for quite a while, but as I mentioned earlier, it's just natural in him. He's always going to shy away from the contact, that's Pau.

I don't think I'm criticizing him too much, or even at all. He clearly believes that the weight room is going to help him be a better player, otherwise he wouldn't be doing it. All I'm saying is that I wish that he would've done it sooner rather than later. I think Pau deserves every penny he's getting, and I know he can perform as well as any 7 footer in the league. If I insinuated that I think Pau's dumb or lazy, I apologize. That's not the point I was trying to get across. I'm just disappointed that in Pau's 9 years in the league, he only now decides to have a real weight-lifting regiment. Saying it's natural really isn't an excuse. I don't think guys like Kobe and Pau are naturally ambidextrous, but they work with their off-hand to open up their game. Don't you think it would've been more beneficial for him as a player if he began strength training earlier in his career? That is my point.

Edited by daco_inc, December 29, 2008 - 12:54 AM.


#20 Rene

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Posted January 01, 2009 - 08:31 PM

I don't think I'm criticizing him too much, or even at all. He clearly believes that the weight room is going to help him be a better player, otherwise he wouldn't be doing it. All I'm saying is that I wish that he would've done it sooner rather than later. I think Pau deserves every penny he's getting, and I know he can perform as well as any 7 footer in the league. If I insinuated that I think Pau's dumb or lazy, I apologize. That's not the point I was trying to get across. I'm just disappointed that in Pau's 9 years in the league, he only now decides to have a real weight-lifting regiment. Saying it's natural really isn't an excuse. I don't think guys like Kobe and Pau are naturally ambidextrous, but they work with their off-hand to open up their game. Don't you think it would've been more beneficial for him as a player if he began strength training earlier in his career? That is my point.

Like any other player in the NBA, the more the weight room, the more muscle/strength. You have to remember, Pau Gasol's game is not based on strength, it's based on finesse. Take Trevor Ariza's abilities, he's an athletic player, his game is based on athleticism and quickness. Now think of Paul Pierce, his game is not based on athleticism nor finesse, Pierce's game is based on strength. So to a certain extent, I don't see Pau Gasol getting stronger as being beneficial to the team. That's what the Lakers have Andrew for. Now if we're talking about a Center, maybe strength would have benefited Pau. He does play the C position occasionally, but for the most part, he's the Power Forward.

Edited by Rene, January 01, 2009 - 08:32 PM.





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