Feb 18, 2012, 1:03 PM EDT
I’m sorry for that reference, first of all.
The Lakers continue to be mired in constant flux. The vetoed Chris Paul trade kicked off a season of uncertainty that has continued. Pau Gasol is constantly discussed in rumors. And Kobe Bryant thinks it’s affecting Gasol negatively. From the Los Angeles Times:
Though it appears pointing out a descrepancy involves splitting hairs, Bryant believes reports linking Gasol in a trade has made it “an emotional couple of days for him.”
“Personally I don’t understand that crap,” Bryant said regarding the Lakers’ effort to trade Gasol. “But it is what it is. It’s important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us.”
Two thoughts on this.
1. Gasol is developing a reputation for letting his emotions impact his play. Lady troubles last spring were heavily discussed as the reason he completely vanished against the Mavericks. This is probably a bit unfair. Everyone goes through personal troubles, and it’s not like the Mavericks didn’t scheme well against Gasol. But admitting it publicly isn’t going to win you any friends with the fans. Playing through it is part of the job, and everyone in the league has to deal with trade rumors. Well, besides Kobe and a handful of others.
2. How can Bryant be surprised by this? The Lakers have a long-standing history of being devoid of emotion when it comes to players. They are about the organization first and foremost. No one is bigger than the Lakers. That’s what happens when your best player is Magic Johnson and the bar is set that high. Jerry West and Shaquille O’Neal have complicated relationships with the organization. The Logo! Shaq won three titles! Bryant may not agree with it, but he has to understand it. This is their approach. Always try and improve.
It also shows how different and honestly, tougher the league is from three years ago. The Gasol trade combined with the formation of the Big 3 in Boston kicked off the new era of superteams, which is what makes this league so much more difficult and leads to Bryant-Gasol-Bynum no longer being enough to dominate. The thing they created is now threatening to tear the team apart. So it goes.