In a slick moment of time, Pau Gasol performed something so simple yet so magnificent.
Kobe Bryant just threw him a dump pass at the top of the key, and the Lakers forward calmly sank the mid-range jumper. Soon after, Gasol pumped his fist in celebration. He just became the ninth foreign born player to score 15,000 points. Moments after making that shot with 9:21 left in the third quarter, public address announcer Lawrence Tanter shared the news before an appreciative Staples Center crowd.
“It’s something to be proud of and I’m happy be able to reach these milestones,” Gasol said after scoring 17 points on seven of 13 shooting in the the Lakers’ 119-108 victory Sunday over the Houston Rockets. “I want to continue to be as productive as I’ve been throughout my career. It feels good. It’s a good milestone to reach.”
Gasol’s record-setting tonight provided a visual reminder on how it’s dangerous of teams to discount his presence. Yes, Houston had to account for Kobe Bryant’s triple-double threat, Dwight Howard’s improved explosiveness, Metta World Peace’s surprisingly efficient shooting and even Darius Morris’ point-guard development. But just as he did in reaching the 15,000 point plateau, Gasol’s mid-range threat proves dividends.
Gasol spaces the floor well. He’s well versed at playing the pick-and-roll games. Gasol usually ensures making the extra pass.
“Hopefully people will talk about it a little bit and sing his praises a little bit,” Bryant said. “He’s not the type to toot his own horn, so, I think it’s important for Los Angeles to kind of pay their respects for what he’s done for this franchise. He kind of goes under the radar, slips under the mat for whatever reason. He’s a fantastic player.”
After all, very few foreign-born players have scored the amount of points Gasol has. With his achievement, the native Spaniard also joins Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria), Dominique Wilkins (France), Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Rolando Blackman (Panama), Steve Nash (South Africa), Kiki Vandeweghe (Germany) and Detlef Schrempf (West Germany).
“I just wanted to be successful and I just wanted to make it and earn respect and succeed and hopefully make people proud of what I was doing,” said Gasol, who’s won two NBA championships with the Lakers. “That’s what I always try to do on a daily basis. So far I’ve gotten to this point and it’s been pretty good.”
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