First let me apologize to all of you who commented on my article “Is Pau Gasol Out of His Mind?” for not responding individually to all of your comments.
However, since all of the comments, no doubt from Lakers fans, took exception to my article and thought that Gasol’s remarks were warranted, I must strongly disagree.
Were Gasol’s comments true? More than likely, but who really knows?
In Game One of the 1985 NBA Finals, the Lakers lost to the Celtics 148-114. It was called “The Memorial Day Massacre” and was the most lopsided loss in the history of the NBA Finals before the Lakers 2008 Game Six loss to these same Celtics, 131-92.
In 1985, the Lakers, who had lost the previous year in the Finals to Boston and were out for revenge, were thoroughly embarrassed by their abysmal defeat at the hands of their archrival.
38-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could manage only 12 points and three rebounds in his matchup with Robert Parish and apologized to his teammates after the game.
The analysts and commentators had a field day, saying the same things about Abdul-Jabbar that Gasol has said about Kevin Garnett.
I interviewed Abdul-Jabbar earlier in the season, and, when I asked him about the toughest defender he had ever faced, he instantly responded Nate Thurman, not Robert Parish.
Obviously, Abdul-Jabbar just had a bad game—plain and simple. The same as what Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers have said about Garnett’s Game One performance on Thursday.
"Whenever we lose a game, we're too old,” Doc Rivers remarked, “and whenever we win a game, we won because we have great experience. I tend to lean on the second part of that more than I do the first part."
In any case, I guess Abdul-Jabbar took all those comments about being old and over-the-hill to heart because he came back and led the Lakers to their first NBA Finals defeat of the Boston Celtics, winning Game Six at the Boston Garden, 111-100.
Not only was it the first time the Celtics had lost an NBA World Championship series on their home court, but the “over-the-hill” Abdul-Jabbar was voted the MVP.
Abdul-Jabbar continued to play at a high level in the NBA until he retired at the age of 42, a 20-year veteran.
Maybe Gasol should learn a little something about Lakers-Celtics history before responding to every single reporters' questions.
So, were Gasol’s comments really true? The answer: Maybe, but we don’t really know for sure as evidenced by our own Abdul-Jabbar’s 1985 performance and beyond.
But even if they are true, Gasol should have left them to the sports analysts, commentators, and writers in the media as well as former coaches and players. They should not have been made by an opposing player in the NBA Finals.
Were Gasol’s comments disrespectful? No, they weren’t. But here again the point isn’t whether or not they were disrespectful, but how all of the Celtics will have Garnett’s back and use those comments to prove that KG and their entire team are up to the task.
"I just can't wait,” said point guard Rajon Rondo enthusiastically. “I didn't know he [Gasol] said that, but I'll be excited to see how it goes in Game Two."
But shouldn’t the NBA Finals be motivation enough for the Celtics? Of course. But, on the other hand, why do all Lakers fans and media pundits point to the 2008 series as the motivating factor for the Lakers?
Shouldn’t being in the NBA Finals be motivation enough for either the Lakers or the Celtics? Of course! So, why point to 2008 or to a poor performance in Thursday’s Game One?
You simply do not give a championship caliber team the slightest advantage. You do or say nothing to give them any extra motivation.
But Gasol is a perfect example of how this is symptomatic of this Lakers team. Whenever they have a team down and all they have to do is step on their throat, they let up, and what happens? Fourth quarter comebacks!
It has happened all season long including the Oklahoma City and Phoenix series. And mark my words, it will happen again in this series.
Yes, I know Phil Jackson is 47-0 when winning Game One of a playoff series, and he may very well turn out to be 48-0.
But Doc Rivers reminds us that streaks can be broken: "The last time we were in the Finals, no team had ever come down from 24 in the second half…At some point it happened.”
Game Four of the 2008 NBA Finals.
So, Pau, take a lesson from Kobe and button up and just play your tail off.