Pau Gasol made his third consecutive All-Star team behind averages of 18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.6 blocks on 52.9 percent shooting from the field. In 10 playoff games, however, the Spaniard struggled for the first extended stretch of his time with the Lakers. He averaged 13.1 points, 7.8 boards, 3.8 assists and 1.7 blocks on 42.0 percent field goals.
Below is a summary of Gasol’s exit interview:
- Summing up his feelings: “The thing that makes me the angriest is me not playing at my best, & not (fully) helping my team accomplish its goals. I’m not happy, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to perform at my usual high level, but obviously I’m not playing alone. It’s time to analyze, to sit back and see what actually happened out there, not just through this last stretch but throughout the year. I think we have to really look deep into how we started, the ups and downs, the meaning of them and what we could have done better individually and as a team to be able to get stronger at certain times when we needed to. It’s unfortunate the way we ended it up; anything short of winning the championship would have been very tough.”
- On the playoff struggles of the team: “It started in the Hornets series, the way we played, our ups and downs there. Then with Dallas in Game 1, by letting that game get away from us, that lead that we had and the position we put ourselves into. That was pretty significant. Every game was kind of a different story until the point that Dallas got so extra confident that they were able to finish us off.”
- On his exit interview conversations with GM Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson: “Point of emphasis was to try and understand and also embrace this moment, you know? Through the rough times, you appreciate more the good times you might of had and how hard it is to get there. (I’m excited) to start off next season fresh and be full of hunger again.”
- Gasol said that reports about his personal life, including his relationship with his girlfriend, were “absolutely false,” and were upsetting to him and those around him.
- The Spaniard understood that expectations of his game were rightfully high, and when he didn’t meet those standards, criticism was sure to come. It’s part of the deal, he relayed, and is his responsibility to deal with individually. Any outside criticism wasn’t going to hurt as much as his own feelings about his game, which he said he’d channel into motivation for the next season.
- Gasol on Phil Jackson retiring: “That’s a very emotional side of this whole picture, because Phil is such a special coach and such a special person, to me dearly. It hurts me that it had to end this way for him. Obviously it just happened that way, and I wish it could have ended a lot differently. It’s tough. It’s been stunning for most of us.”
- Gasol called the season “very emotional,” which ended up taking its toll in the end. He pointed to the number of losing streaks in the regular season as warning signs, as even three-game streaks never used to happen prior to the 2009-10 season. That was alarming to him, and made him question what was really going on, particularly with some of the road losses. He thought some teams had lost fear and respect in relation to the Lakers.
- On responding after losing in the 2008 Finals: “I just kept that feeling of frustration and a certain anger inside of me all next season long. It helped me just push through things and get myself working even harder, and being 100 percent devoted and tuned into what I needed to do to (help) this team win a championship.” He thinks that’s what will carry him through next season as well.
– Gasol said he’s leaning towards playing for the Spanish National Team this summer, in hopes of aiding its qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London. That L.A. Lost this early increases the likelihood that he’ll be play, and still have his legs ready to go for the next NBA season.
- And in conclusion: “We seemed like we barely knew each other at the last game. It’s just another sign of how hard of a moment that it was, but it’s an experience that we all should learn from … I think this will help us be stronger, appreciate things more, understand things better as a team.”