"I'm really proud of him. I'm sorry he didn't have a great shooting night, but the rest of the game, I think was incredible. He got 11 boards, seven assists, four steals, three blocks, no turnovers. I mean, that's as good as you can ask for any player in this league."
These comments came from Pau Gasol while discussing brother Marc's performance during Sunday's win over the Grizzlies, and what immediately caught my attention was how Pau rattled off those stats without looking at a sheet. The data was committed to memory, and presented with complete accuracy. Had Gasol immediate access to an advanced box score, which presents such fancy metrics like assist rate, true shooting percentage and points contributed, I wouldn't put it past him to know those numbers for Marc by heart as well.
Pau's never made any bones about the pride in his hermano's accomplishments, along with the mixed, difficult emotions accompanying competition against his younger brother.
But these feelings aren't necessarily limited to relationships in blood, nor people like Pau, as sensitive and introspective as any athlete I've ever covered. Take, for example, Kobe Bryant. It's not exactly a government secret the dude's competitiveness borders on blood thirst, and isn't quenched merely by collecting W's and jewelry. Kobe typically lives for the battle within the battle; the individual matchup. Bryant is often described as a fella who lives to pummel opposing wings, and it's an accurate description. Factor in how The Mamba routinely presents himself as unsentimental , and it stands to reason those lined up against him would be seen as raw meat to a lion, no questions asked.
Or perhaps not, based on his response when asked how much fun it'll be to have former teammate (and protege) Shannon Brown in the house on Tuesday against Phoenix.
"Not fun at all," said Bryant, shaking his head. "I don't like playing against my little brothers. I don't like it. I watched him develop. I watched him grow. Taught him a lot of things. Those are always tough games for me."
Does he expect to guard Brown?
"I really don't want to," reiterated Kobe. "It's like guarding my little brother. Him, Trevor [Ariza], all those guys. Those are tough games for me."
Family often finds a way to be wonderful and complicated at the same time.