During his time with the Memphis Grizzlies, Pau Gasol was widely considered one of the best frontcourt players in the NBA. Gasol improved his game with every passing year in Memphis, but simply didn’t have the talent around him to take the Grizzlies to the next level.
It wasn’t until Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008 that the Spaniard knew what it was like to play with some of the league’s elite. The pairing of Kobe Bryant and Gasol turned out to be one of the best one-two punches in the NBA and resulted in two NBA titles in three NBA Finals appearances.
Recently, the Chicago Bulls forward/center sat down for a Q&A session with Nick Friedell of ESPN and was asked an interesting question:
The three most talented players you’ve played with in your career are …
Gasol: I guess I got to go with … Kobe, Lamar Odom and, as far as talent goes, I could also say — not [just] in the NBA, right?
It could be anywhere.
Gasol: Then probably Navarro. Juan Carlos Navarro. I mean Lamar is just so talented. Maybe he wasn’t the caliber of player, a superstar, but he was just, I felt, had a very specific and unique talent that I really enjoyed and embraced and respected.
Along with being able to reap the benefits of playing alongside arguably one of the greatest players in the game in Bryant, Gasol also had the pleasure of being teammates with Odom. Although Odom was never considered a superstar nor did he ever make an All-Star appearance, the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year with a unique talent and played a pivotal role in the team’s success during their championship runs.
It comes as no surprise that Gasol would name Bryant as one of the three most talented players he’s ever played with. Kobe would top the list of the majority of the players that have played alongside him in Los Angeles when asked this question. Mentioning Odom, however, is interesting considering Pau’s time playing with his brother, Marc, overseas with the Spanish national team.
Gasol’s naming Odom is a testament to how talented the forward was during his time with the Lakers. Los Angeles had quite a dynamic trio during their back-to-back championship seasons, and that doesn’t even include the contributions of Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum.