Kobe Bryant Calling out Pau Gasol Won't Solve Spaniard's Energy Issues
"Put your big-boy pants on," Bryant said after the Lakers' 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday that dropped the team's record to 8-9. "Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it."
Bryant's words were not said with malicious or sympathetic intent, he just wants Gasol to adjust and start playing better; he wants the perpetual struggle in Hollywood to cease to exist.
Unfortunately, though, actions speak louder than words, even Kobe's words.
Simply urging Gasol—however sternly—to get his act together isn't going to fix this. He's in the middle of the worst season of his career, located within a system he's not familiar with and playing for a coach who hasn't thought twice about benching him when it matters most.
Yes, as a professional, Gasol must try and adapt to his surroundings, to the environment he is placed within, but who's to say he hasn't?
Bryant's thoughts imply that Gasol isn't currently working as hard as he should be, that he's actively attempting to disrupt the team's dynamic by expressing public discontent.
But he's not. Instead, he's acknowledging that he's done his best, which just hasn't been good enough thus far.
"I think we're all trying to figure it out and we're all trying to do our best to win the game," he said. "The coach makes his decisions and you got to respect that."
Sure, Gasol has noted in the past that he's most effective when scoring from the inside as opposed to setting up shop on the perimeter, but what player wouldn't make note of his strengths? Do we honestly believe that Bryant himself wouldn't come to his own defense if Mike D'Antoni weren't playing to his strengths?
I'm not saying that Kobe has given up on Gasol, because he hasn't. He did go on to say that the Lakers were "not going to lose him," that he personally knows how to "deal with him."
Yet does he?
Gasol didn't exactly respond statistically well when Bryant urged the Lakers organization to make a decision about his future with the team last year, so why is he going to respond to such abrupt sentiments now?
Words are not a cure-all, as Bryant sometimes fails to understand. Gasol's struggles don't come down to a lack of effort, they come down to a systematic blueprint, one that dictates he play outside of his of comfort zone.
Thus far, 50 percent of Gasol's field-goal attempts are coming outside of 15 feet, and he's connecting on just 34.3 percent of them. How are Bryant's words supposed to fix that? How can Kobe's words be enough to resurrect the efficient eyesore that has become Gasol's field-goal percentage?
They're not, and they won't be.
Right now, Gasol is operating under the assumption that he doesn't have a clear role—because he doesn't. D'Antoni and the rest of Los Angeles don't want him jacking up threes with Kobe, but there's also no room for him to operate inside the paint next to Dwight Howard.
In other words, he's floundering. It's the middle of the season, major adjustments need to be made and Gasol is taking time to make them, as would anyone.
No, it hasn't been pretty and one would expect to see Gasol be more aggressive than the 12.6 points on 42 percent shooting suggest he is, yet is such a quandary going to be suddenly resolved because Bryant said it has to be?
Not unless Tinseltown truly is the Land of Make Believe.
D'Antoni needs to alter the cosmetic makeup of his system ever so slightly to allow Gasol some more offensive freedom. He has to tweak the rotation to ensure Gasol is playing where he can succeed and next to who can help him excel.
Should we really expect Kobe's words to rejuvenate Pau Gasol?
Simply put, action must be taken, because words are just verbal sewage in this matter. They don't fix anything. Not Gasol's energy level, not his performance, not the Lakers chance at winning a title.
"There's no magic words out there," D'Antoni said in reference to the difficulty of Gasol getting back on track.
D'Antoni and Gasol already know this.
It's Kobe who's confused.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 3, 2012.
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