Dwight Howard nearly ruined Pau Gasol in LA. After all, he was the forgotten one in all this. It was either Dwight or Kobe, Kobe or Dwight — never about Gasol. The only time he was mentioned was when Lakers fans needed a third person to blame when it didn’t lend itself to blame Dwight or Kobe.
And Mike D’Antoni didn’t help any either. Instead, he was a victim of “politics” in LA. Of course the offense had to run through Dwight, even when it had no business doing so.
[via USA Today]
“It was very uncomfortable,” D’Antoni said about the Howard-Gasol dynamic last season. “I knew I was messing on (Gasol) last year. That’s not fair to him. But that was the situation we were in. How do we make the best of it? I was just trying to make the best of it. But no, it wasn’t fair to him.
“I think it was all (politics). It was all that. We wouldn’t do that (normally). If nobody had names on their jerseys, and we were just playing? You go through Pau. There’s not a question. No question.”
Miraculously enough, Gasol is still standing tall in LA. Dwight ran away to Houston. Of course.
But now without Kobe Bryant — for at least the start of the season — and with Dwight nowhere to be found in LA, the responsibility now falls back on Gasol — old faithful. Despite his recent struggle to overcome his own injuries, he’s ready to go.
“I definitely believe I can do it,” Gasol told USA TODAY Sports this week. “I know it. I bounced back really well. The procedure went well, my tendons are a lot healthier now than they were before. I have a lot more healthy tissue that regenerated well. I worked hard during the summer to be in the position that I’m in today, and I look forward to just to going out there and doing what I know best.”
For everything that Gasol has had to endure in LA, it’s amazing that he hasn’t demanded a trade or hasn’t been traded yet. For someone who used to be labeled “soft as silly putty”, behind Kobe, he’s been the toughest Laker in the past five years.
Amazingly, old faithful could be the difference from a lottery-bounty Lakers team to a playoff-bound Lakers team — not Kobe. Yet I’m sure no one will recognize Gasol either way.