As part of his UNICEF trip as a goodwill ambassador, Pau Gasol recently returned from Iraq to help thousands of refugees who have fled from the violence in Syria.
After his trip, Gasol spoke to the Associated Press about this upcoming season with high expectations to reassert himself in the post and as a leader for the Lakers. For the first time in three seasons, Gasol is entering the season without any trade speculation and is determined to get healthy:
“I think I have the most uncertain period behind me. The team has suffered a lot of changes, but as far as me, I am back in the position of a lot of responsibility, which I like, and I’m just going to focus on getting healthy.”
It’s been a couple years, but Gasol is ready for the responsibilities that come his way and reminded doubters that he has been successful when given the opportunity:
“Now with Dwight gone, I am the reference inside and I am more like I was a couple of years back when we made the Finals three straight times and won two straight championships.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding Kobe Bryant’s return from his Achilles rupture and how successful this team can be, the four-time All Star is ready to redeem himself:
“I have a great motivation. It’s the last year of my contract so I want to get back to being one of the top players in the league.”
With high expectations from Mike D’Antoni to have his best year this upcoming season, Gasol now has the support of the franchise and the fans of Los Angeles and should return to All Star form.
While Gasol struggled this past season, he averaged 17.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 6.6 assists in the month of April and showed he still is the best skilled big man in the game.
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