L.A. Lakers: Pau Gasol Needs a Dose of Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum's Attitude

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IApril 7, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18:  (L-R) Andrew Bynum #17, Kobe Bryant #24 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers stand on the court in the second quarter during the game against the Orlando Magic on January 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

L.A. Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is usually the best player at his position whenever his team hits the court, but imagine how good Gasol could be if he played like he really believed that.

Gasol is probably one of the top five power forwards in the game, but he could easily be the best if he had the same type of drive, desire and attitude as two of his other star teammates.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum are usually the two best players at their respective positions in most of the Lakers' games as well, but the only difference is they both play the game like they believe it.

The will to win and the desire to be great is what separates the good players in the NBA from the great ones, and Bryant plays the game with an intensity and passion that may be unrivaled in the game today.

The threat of injury may prevent Bynum from ever being a great player, but since the All-Star break, he has shown how good he can be when healthy.

Bynum has averaged more than 12 rebounds per game and shot better than 60 percent from the field in the Lakers' last 20 games, and he has asserted himself in a manner that Gasol should envy.

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Bynum is blessed with good footwork, quickness, strength, height and an old-school post game, but as with Bryant, it's Bynum's attitude and passion that makes him stand out.

Gasol is just as skilled as Bryant and Bynum, but he doesn't play the game with the same passion.

During the Lakers' current three-game losing streak, Gasol has averaged 17 points per game and eight rebounds, which are pretty decent numbers, but they fail to tell the whole story.

The Lakers' opponents in those games were Denver, Utah and Golden State, and in each contest, Gasol held a size and skill advantage over his counterpart, but he didn't approach those games with that attitude.

Gasol was pushed around by Nene, Paul Milsap and David Lee respectively, and never once did he seem to have the desire to push back.

During the Lakers' 95-87 loss to Golden State, ESPN analyst Mark Jackson said the Lakers are sometimes vulnerable because they have a tendency to be soft, but that statement is not entirely true.

Few people would consider Ron Artest, Derek Fisher, Bryant and Bynum as soft players.

It would certainly be hard to call Bynum's 13 points and 17 rebounds on 5-of-5 shooting from the field against the Warriors soft, but it's no coincidence that Jackson's remarks were made after fluffy moments from Gasol.

In one sequence, Gasol had a rebound ripped from his hands by Lee and then committed a foul, and on the Lakers' ensuing possession, Gasol's shot was blocked after an extremely soft foray to the rim.

Gasol will never be confused as a bruiser player, but if he was more aggressive, his talent would more than compensate for his lack of physical play in the paint.

Bryant was seen screaming at various points during the Lakers' loss to the Warriors, and several of his tirades were sent in Gasol's direction.

It really didn't seem to have much effect though, because Gasol must have already decided that a loss to the Warriors was not enough to get excited about.

Of course, the Lakers' three consecutive losses can not be blamed solely on Gasol, because fatigue and poor point guard defense have played their parts as well.

But Gasol's performances are illuminated because he is the Lakers' second-best player and a legitimate star who is failing to dominate matchups that he should.

Gasol could learn a few lessons in attitude and approach from Bryant and Bynum, and hopefully Gasol can shed his indifferent mannerisms before the postseason starts. 

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