Bryant’s postgame criticism was meant to make sure Gasol doesn’t make those mistakes again as the Lakers try to rally in this series. But even as Bryant attempts to push Gasol forward the rest of this season, it’s just as obvious that this season should be the last for this once-great partnership.
Bryant has tired to having to prop Gasol up time and again. Bryant did it often last season in pursuit of a third consecutive title on a bad knee and before Bynum was ready, offering the compelling Natalie Portman-inspired narrative that Gasol is too often the “white swan” instead of the “black swan.” Like the movie, it didn’t end well.
This season, Bryant has still believed that Gasol can come through when it matters most. Bryant’s public request that the Lakers stop dangling Gasol in the trade market was him believing Gasol needed that support to persevere. When I was comparing the very night before the March trade deadline the emerging Bynum and Bryant to the regular one-two punch of Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, it was Bryant who digressed to say: “We still have Pau.”
Even though Gasol has been loyal and tried to stay invested in the Lakers after the aborted preseason trade for Chris Paul, it hasn’t been the same. And effective or not, no matter how much unwavering respect he has for Bryant, Gasol has also developed his own pocket of resentment for all of Kobe’s high horsing, fire breathing and string pulling in recent years.
What do you think Laker fans? Is it the end? Has the mix of talent as Kevin Ding writes, gone sour? Is it time to bring in some new players and trade Pau or do these group of guys have one more run in them next season? Chime in below or in the Comments!