Kobe Bryant has always been one of my favorite players, hands down, and I think he won my admiration the first time I saw him in the Slam Dunk Contest in '95.
But everything I dislike about both the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant has one common theme to it: Pau Gasol.
For years I've watched him be painted as the scapegoat and thrown under the bus again and again by Kobe Bryant.
He's recently taken blame for not properly adjusting to new coach Mike D'Antoni's system and was condescendingly told by Kobe Bryant to put his "big boy pants on."
I'm sure we've all experienced our fair share of emasculating moments in our lives, but this is almost cringe-worthy.
Pau Gasol has become the real life Milton Waddams from Office Space and Kobe Bryant has become his Bill Lumbergh.
Frankly, Gasol deserves better.
For years we have all watched him take a backseat to Kobe's reputable ego, willing to play on a team with someone who shamelessly takes more than 20 field goals a game.
Last year, statistics proved that the Lakers' win percentage was much higher when Kobe shot 20 times or less than when he shot at least 25 times or more.
Still, he continued to put his own interests over the Lakers.
Gasol is hardly credited for helping Kobe win two of his five rings.
We never talk about how his epic performance in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals won the series for the Lakers, despite the fact Kobe shot 6-of-24 on the night.
The only things we talk about with regards to Gasol is what he's doing wrong.
It's always been that way, though, so we're used to it.
And it certainly doesn't help that Kobe continues to point out Gasol's faults.
If I'm Gasol, I would demand a trade before being asked to sacrifice even more than I already have for a franchise and a fanbase that simply doesn't appreciate me.
He deserves better.
Only then will I be able to continue my love affair with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant without feeling so dirty.
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