Without basketball at this time, all we’re left with is creating hypothetical lineups of players. These are generally under the theme of the greatest of all time or the best of a certain franchise.
Pau Gasol took a slightly different spin on the exercise last week. On an episode of “Inside the Green Room”, Danny Green asked Gasol to construct a team of his favorite players to play with. Gasol has played on five different teams (not including the Blazers, since he never actually suited up for Portland) in his career — the Grizzlies, the Lakers, the Bulls, the Spurs, and the Bucks — in addition to the Spanish national team, giving him quite the pool to select from.
Here’s what Gasol came up with:
“If I really went for people that I really care about... I’ll probably go with Marc (Gasol)... Then Kobe would have to be there, probably Juan Carlos Navarro, who is my best friend and we grew up together, and I would have to have one more... at the three position. I mean, you guys know I played with Kawhi, I played with Jimmy Butler, I played with Metta too, and I played with Shane Battier and Mike Miller in their younger days, when they were go-to guys. So I played with some great ones, and then my national team guys I love them too. Rudy Fernandez is also my guy, and Ricky, and he can play with Juan Carlos and Kobe at the three.”
It is worth noting that Gasol told Green (they were teammates in San Antonio) that he would be on his bench. Otherwise, this would have made for a very awkward end to the podcast.
The primary takeaway here is Gasol could literally build a super team of players he has shared the court with, but he instead answered the question exactly as Green intended it. These are literally Gasol’s favorite people who happen to also be excellent basketball players.
Marc Gasol is an obvious pick, as is Kobe Bryant. The Gasol brothers are part of the golden generation of Spanish basketball, one that has won three consecutive Olympic medals, three EuroBasket titles, and two World Championships since 2006. As great as the Pau Gasol trade worked out for the Lakers, it still bums me out that we never got to see the two brothers play together in the NBA. Bryant is Pau’s non-blood brother, and the on-court chemistry between the two is incomparable.
Juan Carlos Navarro is less familiar to NBA fans, but he is a EuroLeague legend and former captain of the Spanish national team. He played one season with the Memphis Grizzlies — that happened to be the year Gasol was traded to the Lakers, so it’s understandable why he never came back to the United States. Ricky Rubio is another Spanish legend who has taken some of the cutest pictures in the world with Gasol.
Basically we have Kobe + Spain, and since Bryant spoke Spanish, the adjustment period would have been seamless, so long as the other three could get past Bryant’s heroics in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Even if this isn’t the best team Gasol could have assembled, it is perfectly Pau. I imagine that the bulk of Gasol’s teammates would include him on their own starting fives — he is genuinely the most likable man in basketball.