Modern day NBA depresses Pau Gasol: “The essence of the game has been lost”
In an interview with Antoni Daimiel to mark the retirement of his Lakers jersey, Pau Gasol reviewed the current state of affairs in the NBA.
Pau Gasol’s old number 16 jersey sits retired at the top of the Crypto Arena, along with Kobe Bryant’s two (8 and 24). It is the culmination of an extraordinary sports career - that of the best Spanish basketball player in history. The most iconic franchise, with the biggest following in the NBA, the Lakers, decided to pay homage to Pau - a huge honor for a power forward who won his two rings with them (2009 and 2010) alongside Kobe , with Phil Jackson on the bench at the Staples Center - an arena which is still devoted to the Spaniard. They will never forget the key role he played in that seventh game against the Celtics - a performance that will be eternally remembered.
The interviews and tributes have not stopped flowing since it was announced that Pau’s shirt would be withdrawn, which has had an enormous impact within Spanish sport and an extraordinary follow-up - fully deserved. And he has since been in demand with journalists from all over the world, with Pau looking back on his incredible sports career and remembering his great moments, both with the Lakers and before, as well as his successes with Spain’s national team.
One man who could not be missing from that long list of interviews was, of course, Antoni Daimiel. The journalist who played a key part, together with the late Andrés Montes, in introducing and promoting the NBA in Spain - and someone who has covered Pau Gasol’s entire career of Pau Gasol. The two figures, both of them intrinsic to Spanish basketball, one from the court and another from the microphone, met up to chew the fat for Movistar+.
During the interview, Pau cast an eye back on everything he experienced over the last 25 years and talked about the emotions he felt when he found out that his shirt had been retired: “It was very special,” he recalled. “A huge, magical emotional charge. Very intense. It was a profound moment that really had an impact on me, I tried to savour it to the fullest. I felt something that I had not felt in my sports career. I’m very thankful for it. Theses are very special things that one goes through in life - including everyone who has accompanied me and been a part of them and those back home. I hope they too could feel the magnitude of the moment. It’s one of those times in life where you say ‘I’ve experienced something really special’”.
The eldest of the Gasol brothers also spoke about his feelings on modern day basketball and stated that he doesn’t like the dynamics in which the game has entered: “I want to think and believe that they are just cycles that the game is going though. People like novelty, and change. Now its’ all about high scores, dynamic play, three-point shots... Those are the aspects that bring rewards. Even NBA commentators, who have played, say the defense has disappeared. It’s as though it doesn’t matter anymore. It is all about who gives more. I don’t quite like that the essence of this game is lost, which is playing as a team, moving the ball, that there is an inside-outside balance. A little more tactics. Before, you would shoot in the first eight seconds of possession or attempt a three-point shot on a fast break without an offensive rebound and they would send you to the bench so you could think about it a little...” Comments that have gone viral in recent days due to Pau’s assessment of the current state of play in basketball.
Pau, who thinks that his brother Marc shares the same philosophy as him, has also commented on the fact that LeBron James was absent on the day his shirt was removed. The Lakers star was not even present at the Crypto Arena to watch his team (he is out injured), since he had permission to go and watch his son’s game. “I didn’t know LeBron wasn’t there, someone mentioned it to me, but I didn’t realize it either. For me it was not relevant”, assured Pau. It was, after all, a small detail in a truly historic night.