What was considered by some fans to be a “golden” era came to an end when big-man Pau Gasol, who provided the key ingredient in the on-court mix to push the Lakers to three consecutive NBA Finals, said his difficult farewells to Los Angeles and signed with the Chicago Bulls earlier this month. From 2008 to 2014, Gasol sported the purple and gold, and was relied on, counted on and came through most when the Lakers needed him to. As the Spaniard optimistically begins a new chapter in his career, and as the Lakers move ominously into the next chapter of their franchise, there is one thing that can be expected over the next few seasons — Laker fans will feel the loss of Pau Gasol.
We take a look at the top five m0ments of Pau Gasol’s Laker career.
5. First Game as a Laker, 2008
It did not take Laker fans long to realize what a steal they had made by obtaining Pau Gasol. On Feb. 1, 2008, Gasol became a Laker when he was traded to LA, along with a 2010 2nd round draft pick, for Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie, Javaris Crittenton, and the signing rights to Gasol’s younger brother, Marc Gasol. On Feb. 5, Gasol impressed the Laker faithful, putting up 24 points and 12 rebounds in a 105-90 win over the New Jersey Nets.
4. Game 6 Tip-In, 2010 Playoffs
With three minutes left in Game 6 of the playoff series between the Lakers and Thunder, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had just spearheaded an 8-0 run to lead a furious rally to give Oklahoma City their first lead of the second half. With two seconds left in the game, and the Lakers trailing 94-93, Kobe took a driving fade-away for the win. The shot missed, but Gasol, who had accomplished an otherwise unproductive game on offense, launched himself up for the tip in with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Lakers won the game 95-94 to clinch the series, en route to an epic 7-game finals victory over the Boston Celtics.
3. Game 2 Dominance Over Suns In Western Conference Finals, 2010
Later in the 2010 Playoff series, Gasol, along with Kobe and Lamar Odom, led an onslaught to initiate the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns. Then, in Game 2, on Wednesday, May 19 at Staples Center, Gasol went off for 29 points and 7 rebounds with 44 minutes on the court. Whereas Kobe had scored 40 points in Game 1, Gasol was the pinnacle of the Laker offense in Game 2, overpowering Robin Lopez and the Phoenix defense. The Lakers would take the series four games to two.
2. Lakers End Celtics 19-Game Win Streak On Christmas Day, 2008
Christmas Day, 2008, the Lakers stuck it to the Boston Celtics by ending their 19-game winning streak, in what was the most anticipated Christmas game since Kobe and Shaq went toe-to-toe on the court. Gasol was instrumental in the 92-83 win statement — the game, which gave Phil Jackson his 1000th win, was the first meeting since the Celtics embarrassed the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and had made all three of his shots and three free throws to make up over a third of the Lakers’ points in the fourth quarter. Gasol’s 15-foot jumper at the 2:48 mark broke the 81-81 tie, at which point the Lakers never looked back. Additionally, Gasol came up big on defense in the final minutes of the game, leading the Lakers with three blocks.
1. Game 7 Finals Revenge Over Celtics, 2010
The Lakers earned much more than their second-consecutive championship in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals — they earned redemption from being slaughtered by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, exactly two years prior. Gasol was huge in the game, in so many areas, to earn the Lakers their first-ever Game 7 win over Boston. In the fourth quarter, which was filled with intensely close moments, Gasol’s ninth offensive rebound of the game may have been the biggest of his Lakers career. Grabbing a missed 3-pointer by Bryant, the rebound led to Kobe being fouled, knocking Rasheed Wallace out of the game. Gasol would finish the game with 19 points and 18 total rebounds.