Los Angeles Lakers: Barcelona

Our colleague Dave McMenamin files his latest video report while with the Lakers in Barcelona, on how Pau Gasol is the "rock star" around there, as opposed to Kobe Bryant.

The latest update from our colleague, Dave McMenamin, who's along for the ride on the Lakers' European tour.

BARCELONA -- When the NBA hands the Larry O’Brien trophy over to its title winner every June, it doesn’t dub the team the team as “American champions” or “champions of the United States,” it calls them the “world champions.”

Because of that distinction, the back-to-back world champion Los Angeles Lakers feel a twinge of extra pressure headed into Thursday’s preseason game with the 2010 Euroleague champion, Regal FC Barcelona.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Pau Gasol talks to the media during a news conference at practice in Barcelona.

Normally, the outcomes of preseason games don’t matter much. Remember, the 2008 Detroit Lions were a surprisingly delightful 4-0 in the preseason and a historically dismal 0-16 in the regular season. But the outcome of this game matters more than a little bit more for the Lakers for three reasons:

They want to win it for Pau Gasol in his homecoming game against his former team.

They want to win it for the NBA, to show that, even with an injured Andrew Bynum and a severely limited Kobe Bryant, the NBA produces a better champion than the Euroleague does and thus remains the premier basketball league in the world.

And they want to win it so they can salvage a Europe Live trip that got off to a dubious start with a sloppy 111-92 loss to the rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves in London on Monday and not return to Los Angeles winless to start their march towards a three-peat title.

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Kobe Bryant
22.3 5.6 1.3 34.5
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.0
AssistsK. Bryant 5.6
StealsR. Price 1.6
BlocksE. Davis 1.3