“Can I get an encore, do you want more?/Cookin raw with the Brooklyn boy/So for one last time I need ya’ll to roar/Now what the hell are you waiting for?”
I was getting lunch with a few buddies when I heard the news: Pau Gasol was traded to the Lakers….for Kwame Brown. All my expectations changed that day. No more would I cry myself to sleep as visions of entry passes bounced off Kwame’s stone hands. Pau’s first game in LA, a smiling Kobe Bryant interrupted the post game interview by screaming “Me Gusta!” into John Ireland’s microphone. I think it was the first time Kobe had smiled since he left Colorado, but since I’ve done my best to block those 16 months from my head, I suggest we move on.
After acquiring Pau the Lakers went on a league wide killing spree, ripping off a 41-12 record en route to the Finals. All that came to an abrupt stop in Boston. After getting manhandled down low by the brutish Celtics front line, the press labeled Pau “soft”. During the 2009 Playoffs, he used that experience as motivation and successfully annihilated anyone in his path. If the Lakers are going to repeat, they need Pau Gasol to come out in Spanish Bull Fighter mode ready to dance.
This year the Lakers are the hunted, and they’ll need an encore performance from Pau to once again reach the Promised Land. Of course, that assumes the rest of the Lakers have the mental capacity to understand their best option to put the leather ball through the metal rim is a 7 foot 1 Spaniard with a scraggly beard. Was it me, or did anyone else want to rip their eyes out watching the Lakers ignore Pau Gasol for most of the 4th Quarter against Portland? It was as if they were purposefully ignoring Pau Gasol, instead opting for bad clock management and forced jump shots. That’s when Phil Jackson needs to stand up and backhand every member of the Lakers team for insolence. Perhaps Phil should strap a shock collar on every Lakers not named Gasol and deliver 100 volts of hell to their throats every time something like this happens. You think they’d get the picture?
With Kobe banged up, the Lakers need Gasol more than ever. Just like last year, it’s up to him to demand the ball and handle his business once he gets it.
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