It’s marked nine years that Pau Gasol has kept his scruffy beard, and there’s nothing that convinced him to shave it.
After losing a competition to his brother, Marc, of the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a initiative with his self-named foundation. Pau and Marc coached two different teams representing their respective cities in what was called “The Healthy Competition,” a contest that tracked the team’s fitness level using gifted Nike Fuelbands. As with everything, Gasol seemed to be a good sport about losing the bet, posting the experience both on Vine and on Youtube.
Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer
Below is the second in a series previewing the storylines surrounding each player on Lakers’ roster for the 2013-14 season.
1. Gasol should have a larger role Amid endless trade rumors and diminished responsibilities, Pau Gasol somehow has stayed on with the Lakers. Part of that hinged on Dwight Howard leaving for the Houston Rockets via free agency and the Lakers never finding a trading partner that could provide enough for Gasol’s value. No matter. Gasol should have a much better year than last season when he posted a career low in points (13.7) and shooting percentage (46.6 percent). That’s because Gasol primarily will operate in the post instead of remaining a facilitator and stretch forward. Such a role change will give Gasol more ownership and confidence he can restore his consistency that led to the Lakers winning two NBA championships in three consecutive Finals appearances.
2. How healthy will Pau Gasol become? The biggest variable surrounding Gasol’s success won’t surround what role he plays, however. It will mostly depend on how much he’s healed the tendonosis in both of his knees. Gasol underwent a procedure in May on his knees that involved removing scar tissue. Despite the Lakers’ estimation that he’d resume basketball activities in late July, Gasol didn’t progress to that stage until early September.
Of course, Gasol still has time to heal. A few weeks remain until training camp starts and the Lakers’ season opener begins Oct. 29 against the Clippers. But it’s possible Gasol doesn’t enter the season fully healthy. Should such a scenario unfold, Gasol’s injury could affect his conditioning and aggressiveness, two variables that would significantly hurt his chances in morphing back into the dominant post player he once was.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol reiterated support for former teammate Lamar Odom, who was arrested last week on DUI suspicion and has reportedly struggled with drug abuse.
There’s a lot weighing on Pau Gasol’s mind, and it goes beyond the rehab surrounding his knees. It also goes beyond Gasol’s upcoming preparation tomorrow when he meets with the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires, Argentina to make his pitch that his native Spain should host the 2020 Olympic Games in Madrid.
This involves something far more important than basketball. This involves Lamar Odom, who was arrested last week on DUI suspicion and has reportedly struggled with drug addiction.
“I wish that he’s well and if the rumors are true that he recovers because I have great love for Lamar,” Gasol told reporters in Buenos Aires. “He’s a great guy and going through a tough moment.”
Pau Gasol has spent the past few days traveling. He’s rehearsing for his pitch to the International Olympic Committee Saturday in hopes that his native Spain hosts the 2020 Olympic Games in Madrid. Yet, that hasn’t taken away from Gasol’s focus to rehab on his knees.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina Wednesday to speak on behalf of Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee. Credit: Pau Gasol’s Twitter account
Pau Gasol remains an avid traveler and a highly-cultured person, ranging from reading historical novels, making trips to countries in need as a UNICEF ambassador and attending operas. But Gasol’s latest excursion serves a different person.
He landed Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he will represent Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee in hopes that his native Spain can host those Summer Games.
Madrid will compete with Tokyo and Istanbul for the 2020 Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee will announce its decision Saturday in Argentina.
In another sign that suggests he may be fully healthy for the beginning of the season, Lakers forward Pau Gasol spent Labor Day weekend playing on the basketball court for the first time since the team’s first-round loss last April to the San Antonio Spurs.
“After this morning work, this evening I will get back to the basketball court wearing these!” Gasol wrote on his Instagram account, which featured a photo of his shoes.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol is presumed to have a larger role this season because of Dwight Howard’s departure. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
No longer will Pau Gasol’s effectiveness on the Lakers hinge on if the team features him enough on offense. With Dwight Howard’s departure to the Houston Rockets via free agency, Gasol is expected to return as the second option behind Kobe Bryant, a formula that helped secure three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two back-to-back championships?
Will that prove enough for Gasol to have a breakout season? That became a topic of discussion on Time Warner Cable’s Access SportsNet Thursday night where analyst Dave Miller, 710 ESPN’s Beto Duran and I looked into all the variables surrounding Gasol’s play.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol, at the Los Angeles Boys & Girls Club earlier this summer, made a step in his knee rehab by receiving clearance to run on grass. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)
Pau Gasol has started running yet, but it’s not on the hardwood. In what marks a gradual approach toward rehabbing his knees, Gasol spent part of Thursday running instead on grass.
The images surrounding Pau Gasol helping the Lakers toward winning an NBA championships remains a distant memory. In the past three seasons, other sights stick out. The Lakers forward has become trade bait after the team’s unsuccessful attempt to trade him in the original Chris Paul deal. Gasol has tried to overcome reduced roles to accommodate Andrew Bynum and then Dwight Howard. Gasol hasn’t been fully healthy, either.
Yet, Gasol seemingly has nine lives when it comes to his time with the Lakers. With Howard’s departure, it’s presumed Gasol will have a larger role in the post, a key factor that ensured the Lakers to three Finals appearances and two NBA championships. But an important variable remains unanswered in determining how successful Gasol becomes next season in what will be the last year of his contract worth $19.3 million.
Pau Gasol will sit out of the FIBA EuroBasket Championships in September in hopes of fully rehabbing his knees, but the Lakers forward plans to help his native Spain in a different way.
Madrid’s 2020 Olympic bid committee has appointed Gasol as one of its spokesman and will address International Olympic Committee during Madrid’s final presentation in Buenos Aires next month. Gasol provided an impassioned statement and indirectly suggested how hosting the Summer Games would provide a significant financial boost to Spain, which has battled a recession for most of the past four years and has a 26.3 percent unemployment rate.
“The Olympic Games are more than sport – I know this personally as an Olympian. Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol said in a statement. “But Madrid will also give something back to the Olympic Movement – we are a city that is prepared with a responsible bid plan that will help develop sport far into the future.”