No longer will Pau Gasol step on the court showing off his dazzling array of post-moves and passing while wearing a Lakers uniform. After spending 6 1/2 seasons helping the Lakers to two NBA championships, adapting to varying roles and listening to endless trade rumors, Gasol officially decided on Sunday that he will join the Chicago Bulls.
On his Web site, Gasol called leaving the Lakers an “extremely difficult decision” before expressing gratitude for his two NBA championships, Kobe Bryant and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. But the strong emotions went beyond no longer wearing the purple and gold. Gasol also remains mindful about his philanthropic impact with Los Angeles that entailed extensive relationships with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and MySafeLA. Yet, Gasol maintained those efforts will still stay ongoing.
“Despite the move,” Gasol said, “I intend to maintain close ties with the Los Angeles community, which will always feel like home to me.”
Gasol may no longer make the nearly four visits a year to Children Hospital Los Angeles that will seeing patients and viewing spinal surgeries. But Dr. David Skaggs, chief orthopedic surgeon of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said other parts of his partnership will remain intact.
Gasol has helped install a fellowship that entails the hospital training doctors from his native Spain. It seems likely Gasol will make visits to the hospital when the Bulls play the Lakers in Los Angeles, similar to the appearances Gasol makes at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital anytime the Lakers played in Memphis.
“I’ve always asked Pau, ‘What will happen if you get traded?” Skaggs said before Gasol’s free agency began. Pau has always said, ‘I’ll help out no matter what.’ He’s going to be there no matter what to help Children’s Hospital.”
The same applies to MySafeLA, an initiative sponsored by the Los Angeles Fire Department that addresses fire safety issues. Gasol will no longer be able to make frequent visits to various elementary schools within the L.A. unified school district. But executive officer David Barrett said Gasol still plans to record videos in both English and Spanish about fire safety. It seems possible Gasol would also squeeze in visits with the L.A. Fire Department in Bulls road games in Los Angeles.
“It doesn’t matter where he plays,” Barrett said. “I don’t see what we’re doing with Pau changing that much.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org