Kobe Bryant demanded a trade in the summer of 2007, and while the Los Angeles Lakers better than expected start to the year surely helped sway Bryant's decision to rescind his trade demand, it was the front office's trade for Memphis Grizzlies forward Pau Gasol that truly sealed the deal.
Gasol and Bryant boasted as much instantaneous chemistry as any two teammates in NBA history, with Pau's soft-spoken intellectual and Bryant's borderline psychotic competitiveness somehow fitting together as seamlessly as peanut butter and jelly. The two made three consecutive NBA Finals appearances as teammates, winning in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol left for the Chicago Bulls as a free agent during the summer of 2014, despite Bryant trying "everything under the sun to convince him to stay," ending the pair's time as teammates. But as Gasol made clear in a special pregame introduction for Bryant before his last game in Chicago and on the same court as Gasol, the two will always be friends.
After the Bulls beat the Lakers on Sunday night, Gasol posted a touching video of the two hugging on Instagram that will make any Lakers fans' eyes water at least a little:
Here is a gif if the above embed doesn't work for you:
Bryant was similarly nostalgic about his time with Gasol after the game when speaking with the media:
Kobe seemed...melancholy?...describing last game vs. Pau: "We always though we'd retire on the same team." Mutual respect b/w them both.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 22, 2016
Kobe on Pau: "This was the last time I was going to face him, that's weird. Unless we play pick up ball in Barcelona or something" via TWCSN— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) February 22, 2016
If the two do play pick-up ball in retirement in Barcelona, there are probably a legion of Lakers fans who wouldn't mind if they streamed it.
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