After being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2008, Pau Gasol joined forces with Kobe Bryant and began a relationship that has stayed strong to this day. Gasol and Bryant became the league’s elite dynamic duo, and, as a result, led the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two NBA titles.
With Thursday’s matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Lakers at the Staples Center, Gasol faced his former teammate for the last time in Los Angeles. Bryant reflected on Gasol’s time with the Lakers and thinks the city of Los Angeles didn’t appreciate the two-time NBA champion via Baxter Holmes of ESPN on Jan. 27:
“I think the city of L.A. didn’t really appreciate what he did and what we had, and so as a consequence, everybody kind of fell in line with the [former Lakers coach] Mike D’Antoni rhetoric of small ball and all this other bulls—. For a guy that has two championships to be treated that way, you don’t do that, man.”
During his time in Los Angeles, Gasol’s name was mentioned in trade rumors constantly. Every single season Gasol was seemingly used as trade bait heading toward the NBA trade deadline.
In 2011, Gasol was traded to the Houston Rockets in a three-team deal. The Lakers brass attempted to land star point guard Chris Paul in the deal which also included Lamar Odom being dealt to the then-New Orleans Hornets.
The NBA ultimately vetoed the blockbuster trade, but the damage was done. Gasol was rumored to be on the trading block all the way up to his eventual departure in free agency in 2014.
Bryant and company continued their losing streak on Thursday at the expense of Gasol’s Bulls, with a final score of 114 – 91 in favor of Chicago. It won’t be the final time Kobe faces Gasol with the Lakers taking on the Bulls at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 21.