There are many reasons we can use to pinpoint Pau Gasol’s dull, vapid, lifeless performances on the court.
But I have narrowed it to down three.
Three symptoms seem to consistently show themselves whenever Pau makes L.A. fans grit their teeth at the mention of his name.
And this season, unfortunately, the Laker faithful have had multiple opportunities to diagnose Gasol.
In science, experiments are conducted in a laboratory using control samples. For metaphor’s sake, let’s say that Pau has been the experiment and the many times he has, essentially, failed-to-perform-to-standard-levels on the the court are the control samples.
It all started in the 2008 Finals against Boston. This is when L.A. began to notice the other side of Pau.
Read Pau’s comment about his horrific game 1 of the 2011 NBA playoffs--a game that should have marked the first step in L.A’s course to three-peat; a game when L.A was playing an inferior opponent that should have caused a big time player (such as Gasol, wink-wink, nudge-nudge) to lick their chops; when waking up in the morning and realizing that Sunday meant the world would be watching and expecting you tp play your heart out en route to a fairly easy victory:
"It’s up to me to get myself going, be more aggressive, get myself into rhythm,” Gasol said.
Excuse me, Pau--really?
“It’s up to me..."
Pau, buddy, do you not get that Staples Center was booing at the end of the game? Do you not understand that L.A. is tired of leaving it up to you?
This entire season fans have left it up to you and you have taken over as the Lamar Odom of last year: The which-player-are-we-going-to-see-tonight guy. The one that leaves it all on the court? Or the one that is painful to watch because they’re playing like they have hundred pound weights attached to their ankles?
“It’s up to me...”
Yeah, how’s that working for you and L.A.? Not so good, is it?
And it just wasn’t working Sunday afternoon either. The only thing that would have satisfied L.A. fans is having you sit down in a chair while every faithful Laker follower got one slap across your cheek and a megaphone in your ear to yell: “We’re tired of your ‘Oh well’ attitude."
Pau’s statement is unapologetic and is disconnected from the magnitude of the surroundings. This is scary. This also means Pau is prone to more of this.
Until Pau says, “I blew it. This one is on me. I played like I had a skirt on,” L.A. fans can count on at least one game a series like this from Pau, and, next season, can count on many more showings like this.
How many times does Kobe have to pull a multimillion dollar big man aside and tell him, “Look, bro, you’re seven feet tall, second in command on this team...you need to take it to the rack. Feel free to shoot!"
Kobe’s comments following game one were kind and diluted. “He’s not naturally aggressive...Pau is our guy...He’s next in line and gets the responsibility that comes with it.”
What Bryant meant to say was something to the effect of, “I don’t know how many times Pau needs a pep talk, but the guy is wearing me out. He’s constantly unmotivated. He’s a big man who plays like he’s a shy school boy who’s never talked to a girl before. I’m sick of carrying this guy on my back!"
But Kobe is a professional, so he tailored his words.
Still, Pau needs to be more conscious of his role on the team. Until he actually seizes this leadership opportunity, Pau will continue to disappoint.
Sunday, Pau shot 22% from the field, taking less than ten shots in thirty-eight minutes. Yikes.
In basketball, leadership means you have earned the right to shoot and shoot often. If you miss, at least you missed trying. There are guys in the D-leauge who would love to take a stab at the playoffs and try to take every open shot they could, or drive to the hole to create shots for themselves.
Earth to Pau: It’s okay to shoot. That’s what Jackson and management want you to do. Did you not get that memo, say, two years ago...when you were hired?
Kendrick Perkins said it and so did Kevin Garnett: The man is soft.
There is no denying it.
Derrick Fisher has more grit and he’s almost a whole foot shorter than Pau.
Before the game, Pau had a responsibility to be at Staples at least ninety minutes before tip-off. He had not arrived yet. He was late.
What happened later? He got pushed around the entire game.
Here’s what he had to say: "I wasn't very sharp. I couldn't get into a good rhythm. I didn't get myself going at all.” Gee, those symptoms showed even before you waddled your way into the arena after disembarking you Porsche Cayenne S.
Let’s see that again: "I wasn't very sharp. I couldn't get into a good rhythm. I didn't get myself going at all.”
Yeah, no kidding!
But no one wants a summary. Anyone watching the highlights could have concluded that.
This was the time to say, “Once again, I let second rate players dominate me (Gray) and I gave people incentive to indict me on the lackluster style that has unfortunately come to characterize my game."
Is Pau an aspiring musician?
This is sports! He should try grit. Heart. Passion. That makes up for sharpness and rhythm any day!
“I didn’t get myself going,” Pau said.
Pau, baby, bubba-boy, L.A. does not need you to be rhythmic or sharp or get yourself going. They simply need you to play with passion and enthusiasm and energy EVERY night out. By the way, there are other incentives that are supposed to remedy players who have trouble “getting themselves going,” i.e. millions of dollars a year. Three-peats. Rings. Etc.
It seems the league has covered that issue. So where you at, big guy?