Speak out: LA Lakers’ Pau Gasol is class personified

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Friday, May 3, 2013


Nouia Eco
Contributor

AS Pau Gasol checked out and took his seat on the bench in the last few minutes of the game, the series and the season that are so far off from being salvaged for the LA Lakers, the Staples Center crowd stood up, clapped and cheered as they thanked their Spanish power-forward knowing that it may be the last time they’ll see him wearing purple and gold. They thanked him for the six years he has spent with their team, for the two titles he helped give them in that span, for, as of late, taking over the best player spot on the roster while the reigning one is recuperating from a torn achilles, and for not giving up.

The standing ovation and the gratitude it connotes are definitely well-deserved. And if there is one other thing the LA Lakers faithful should also appreciate more about Pau, it should be his classy character.

You see, it wasn’t always a sweet love affair between Gasol and the Laker-lovers.

There was that time, during the last two seasons, when LAL always seems to come up short, continuosly struggling and Pau Gasol was the fans’ and the media’s scapegoat.

They were saying he was too soft, that he should be traded or anywhere near that context.

When it would have been easier for Gasol to point a finger to anybody else, to blame the management or the coach, to call out his teammates, to make excuses and even to badmouth fans, like what other players and even some of the guys on the team do, Pau Gasol took the blame, responded professionally and most of the time just kept quiet and kept playing.

It has been a controversy-plagued season for the Lakers as speculations were thrown around about why and how they’ve disappointingly imploded and it did not help that Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace and even Coach Mike D’Antoni went Hollywood and give colorful commentaries and post intriguing tweets for the press to read too much into. Pau, on the other hand isn’t having any of that.

I watched his post-game conference after they got eliminated by the Spurs in game 4 and he only had good things to say about his teammates, the team and overall the franchise saying he is honored to be a part of the Lakers organization and that the future is bright. He also gushed about his Defensive Player of the Year brother, Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies saying how proud he is of his younger sibling and that he will be Marc’s biggest fan as the latter’s team is still pretty much in the thick of things vs. the Clippers. He then thanked the fans for their undying love and support throughout the tough season, one he already did as he exited the tunnel after the final buzzer when he turned around and clapped towards the direction of the crowd before heading to the locker rooms. A gesture so apt, so fitting of his image. Class act.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 03, 2013.

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