Pau Gasol Finals interview
The Boston Celtics lead the Los Angeles Lakers 1-0 in the best-of-seven 2008 NBA Finals. Here's what Lakers star power forward Pau Gasol, who is playing center until Andrew Bynum returns next season, said to reporters on Saturday, the day before Game 2 will be played in Boston.
Q. How do you think that you complement Kobe as a teammate? How does your game complement his?
Pau Gasol: Very well. I think very well. I think he and I know how to play the game, and I try to give him good reads. I try to keep my defender with me so it takes a little pressure off of him, and I'm a big guy with good hands, can catch the ball, make plays, finish well around the basket. So I think I'm a great complement to him.
Q. Has Phil talked about maybe expecting more touches this game? I think you got 11 shots last game or something like that.
Pau Gasol: We talked about it a little bit. We want to make sure we establish a post presence and play inside out a little bit more. I think that's going to help our offense and hopefully also give me a little more in the lane and being aggressive, and force them to play a little defense on me. I think that should be interesting, hopefully; that would be great.
Q. The way they pack back in, you guys were able to get inside a little bit in the second quarter and then not after that. Why not? Is it just people making wrong reads or not thinking inside enough or running different stuff?
Pau Gasol: Well, they did a good job. They played tough on the post, and they did a good job trying to force us to go a different direction. When we had the ball in the wing they moved down into the post, so we had to swing the ball on the other side of the court and then not allow that post pass easily. Then we got away from it and then we started settling a little too much and then we got a little out of our normal execution. I guess that's what they did good.
Q. Is Kendrick Perkins being Utah-style physical or more or less?
Pau Gasol: He's maybe a bigger body, but he's also longer, so he loses a little bit of leverage. But he's definitely a force in there and he does a good job being physical and using his body well. So that's been a big plus for them all playoff long, all year long, I think.
Q. When you first came overseas here and got into the NBA what were your expectations? What did you expect? And were there any surprises in terms of making a transition to NBA basketball?
Pau Gasol: It was hard for me, not only in basketball but in every other aspect of my life. But my mission, my goal was kind of succeed, because everybody when I came here, back in my country, they were all kind of hesitant and expecting me to fail because I was skinny, I was 20, 21 years old, told me I wasn't ready. I was only the second Spaniard at the time to make it to the NBA. They were like, oh, he'll be back next year. So I always like to prove people wrong when they think less about me. So that was my mission, kind of, like succeed, play well and toughen up, and I took the challenge.
Q. What was the biggest adjustment for you in terms of your game to the NBA game?
Pau Gasol: I guess the amount of games that were played. It was so many in such a short period of time that I wasn't used to that. We were a pretty remote team and we had just moved to a different city, so it was a big adjustment overall. So I guess that I was just focusing on playing basketball, learning the language, I mean, just a lot of stuff. But I did pretty well. I think I had a pretty good season and a pretty good result individually.
Q. I just wanted to get your thoughts on the firing of Pepu Hernandez, the Spanish national team coach, the timing and the circumstances of it and whether you're endorsing anybody else as a replacement.
Pau Gasol: Well, I didn't have a lot of inside information about it because I've been pretty focused on what I have going on here, so I didn't try to dig into it too much. I know there was some tension between the coach and the federation, a little bit of misunderstanding between them, and obviously the federation didn't appreciate that, I guess, and they decided to release him and let him go and get somebody else. They're talking about Aito is the main guy that they're talking about right now. He coached me back in Barcelona before I came to the NBA, so I know him pretty well. And he was coaching Joventut the last three years. So he'll be a good fit, I think, for the national team. But it's unfortunate because I think Pepu was a good coach for us. He did a good job. He carried the group well. But the relationships, I guess, with the federation weren't good enough for him to stick around one more year.