Apparently, Pau Gasol can get feisty.
Kobe says Pau had a "tantrum" in the locker room after the ORL loss & it was as frustrated he's ever seen him, but credited him for caring— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 26, 2014
How bad was his "tantrum?" According to the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, pretty bad:
Kobe on Gasol's post-game rant in the locker room after Orlando game: "That was the most irritated I've seen Pau in a long, long time."— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 26, 2014
Can you really blame Gasol? At 16-29 following Sunday's loss to the New York Knicks, the Lakers have the Western Conference's second-worst record. More than halfway through the season, they're also over eight games back of a playoff spot. As a 10-plus-year veteran, frustration with this kind of situation is inevitable.
It's important to note, though, Bryant's initial "tantrum" description is inaccurate.
Tantrums are something Bryant despises and has called Gasol out for in the past, as recent as last season.
"Put your big-boy pants on," Bryant said of Gasol's pouting last December, via McMenamin. "Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it."
This outburst is something Bryant supports, indicating it was more of a leader taking control than it was a petulant 7-footer waxing personal grievances:
More Kobe on Pau's rant: "It's something that needs to be done. It's not about 'giving good effort.' It's about winning championships."— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 26, 2014
Here's where Bryant loses me personally.
Seeing the usually passive Gasol take some ownership of this Bryant- and Steve Nash-less Lakers team is encouraging. Los Angeles needs leadership beyond Nick Young; its band of misfits needs guidance.
No active L.A. player is more decorated or better suited for the role than Gasol. If he sees something he doesn't like, that thick Spanish accent of his must take center stage.
But let's not pretend it's about winning championships in Hollywood. The Lakers aren't a championship team. Not even close. Even with a healthy Bryant, they're mediocre at best.
Effort and pride is all this team has left, and that's what Gasol was calling his comrades out for.
"Bottom line is, when you lose against the worst teams in the league, you've got to ask yourself why and...what does that make you?" Gasol said following his postgame rant, per Bresnahan.
What are the Lakers? A bad team. Bottom-feeders.
That doesn't mean they must bow their heads or waver in commitment. The effort still has to be there, like it is on some nights, when we're left gushing about how much swagger this team has.
"We need Pau to step up and say stuff like that," Young said of Gasol's outburst, per Bresnahan. "We need people to fight."
Young, as he has been so many times this season, is right. This outspoken version of Gasol is what the Lakers need; they need that fight. That spirit. That big-boy-pants-wearing big man.
"We need people who have passion," Young added, via Bresnahan.
Passion and leadership for sake of effort, not winning championships this season, just so we're clear, Kobe.