Pau Gasol appeared in good spirits, and the reasons went beyond the Lakers’ 102-95 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. Or his game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in what marked his most effective game this season.
Instead, Gasol sounded more excited about his play because of the impact it had off the court. With Gasol pledging beforehand that he would donate $1,000 for every point he scored to UNICEF’s relief efforts surrounding the Super Typhoon Haiyan that recently devastated the Philippines, the Lakers forward will soon donate $24,000 toward that cause.
“I definitely had that motivation of scoring points tonight for the Philippines,” Gasol said. “Once I started knocking those outside shots, things opened up for me. I could attack off the dribble. They didn’t know what would come to them. I was glad to get the win and score all those points to contribute to a great cause.”
Gasol also appeared happy other followed his lead.
The Lakers’ center promoted his cause on his Twitter account that has over 2.3 million followers asking others to donate as well. Plenty of fans chimed in, vowing they’d donate anywhere usually between $1 to $20 depending on how many points, rebounds and blocks Gasol recorded against the Warriors.
“That’s what I was hoping to accomplish, to get people to also pledge and contribute and donate along with me so that we could have a bigger impact,” Gasol said. “That’s basically what it takes. One person can do something, but when you gather a hundred, a thousand people then the impact is much, much bigger.”
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson also jumped at the opportunity. He will donate $1,700 after promising $50 for every point and rebound Gasol recorded.
Gasol pledged before the game to donate $1,000 for every point he scored to support UNICEF’s fundraising efforts in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan that recently devastated the Philippines.
“I was thankful, touched and I really appreciated it,” Gasol said of Jackson’s help. “We have a great relationship, and I think for him to jump on board also encouraged other people to do the same, so I really appreciate his gesture and his contribution.”
Jackson could’ve donated more, though. He promised he’d given an additional $1,000 for every charge Gasol would take perhaps as way of both motivating and tweaking his former player. But Gasol shied away from the contact.
“Charges are not my thing,” Gasol said. “Phil knows that. It wasn’t on my mind at the time. I had a lot of things, too many things, on my mind already. So, I wish I could have taken a charge to get him to contribute a little more.”
Or convince Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to join the effort. He joked following morning shootaround that he hoped Gasol would “go broke” in his charitable efforts by having a big performance. But D’Antoni didn’t add to the bottom-line result.
“I think Pau can handle it,” D’Antoni said. “I’m not worried about his finances too much.”
Instead, D’Antoni ensured the Lakers featured him plenty on offense.
“We’re doing a better job getting the ball to different places,” D’Antoni said. “He’s picked his spots. He’s also hitting a jump shot and took it a couple times off the dribble and into the post.”
It also helped that the Lakers had four days between games, including one day off and three practices. Gasol had experienced some health issues before, including a respiratory illness, a strained muscle in his left foot and still recovering from offseason knee procedures.
As a result, Gasol showed more aggressiveness looking for his shot. He scored in a variety of ways, including mid-range jumpers, post moves and drives to the basket.
Maybe Gasol should tie his performance to a charitable cause for every game.
“Maybe,” Gasol said. “If I feel like it’s something that’s important, for sure.”
It’s safe to say that will happen again.
Gasol donated $26,000 to help victims affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011 after scoring 26 points against the Clippers. He also gave $20,000 to help relief efforts related to the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 after posting 20 points against the New York Knicks. Gasol also has frequently provides charitable donations to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has visited impoverished countries as a UNICEF ambassador, including South Africa (2005), Angola (2007), Ethiopia (2010), Chad (2012) and Iraq (2013).
“When something like this happens, a tragedy of this magnitude, I always try to contribute and get involved somehow and again, attract people to join me in the mission,” Gasol said. “Thousands of people have died from this catastrophe. Millions have been affected. Their lives have been taken away from them and now they need people that have the means to help them rebuild, to give them hope and that’s what we try to do.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org