I vividly remember February 1st, 2008. I was working at an insurance job that I hated in downtown Los Angeles at the time, furtively stealing glances at LakersGround and ESPN when the bosses weren’t around. Chris Vernon of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that morning that there were trade talks between the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies involving Pau Gasol, and I was frantically hitting F5 to refresh websites in a world where Twitter was in its infancy, like a savage.
And then it happened. Pau Gasol and a 2010 second round pick to the Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, 2008 and 2010 first round picks, and Marc Gasol, the mere 48th pick in the 2007 draft.
We got Pau ... FOR KWAME AND A COUPLE OF PICKS?!?!?!? Or at least that’s how it felt at the time. I took a “bathroom break” and proceeded to run around the 19th floor of the Ernst & Young building whisper-yelling “WE GOT PAU!!!” to every Laker fan that I knew.
Other team’s fans were tossing conspiracy theories around about how David Stern and the Illuminati were behind this, or something like that. Gregg Popovich was pissed. It was glorious. The Lakers were back.
That type of feeling only comes around every ten years or so.
Gasol was a perfect complement to Kobe Bryant, and their chemistry was immediate. His game was similarly skilled and elegant, but his genteel disposition counteracted with Kobe’s seething rage. And Pau needed the Black Mamba to coax the Black Swan out of him from time to time.
The fact that Pau’s still a contributing player on a playoff team a decade later is a testament to his skill set. We were lucky to have him in his prime, and someday he’ll take his rightful place alongside Kobe in the rafters of Staples Center.