Los Angeles Lakers: Los Angeles Laker

Professionalism, uncertainty and a problem bigger than Pau

February, 20, 2012
2/20/12
11:48
AM PT
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The big news off Sunday's loss to Phoenix was Kobe Bryant putting the front office on a clock to provide Pau Gasol an indication of his future. Is the power forward staying or going, and if it's the latter, get the ball rolling ASAP. Bryant's concerns were expressed with a blend of pragmatism and empathy:

"You can't have one of our pillars not knowing if he's going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something. ... He's been the consummate professional. He's going out, he's trying to do what he can, but let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block, you feel like you're just waiting. It's tough to put all of yourself into the game."


Jennifer Stewart/US Presswire
Idle time to sit and think on the bench isn't a great thing for Pau.

Some, like Brian, would debate the purposefulness of Bryant speaking out, even if from a well-intentioned place. But there's another matter I've seen heavily debated in blog comments, our weekly chats or on the radio: Is Pau in fact being the "consummate professional" described by Kobe? The swirling rumors have, by Gasol's own admission, worn him down. And while I don't think uncertainty is the sole reason he hasn't played up to his standards, it's evolved into a reason, which leads fans to question whether "a professional" would be rattled in the first place.

The answer is yes, and it's naive to think otherwise.

We often ask athletes to alternate between treating the NBA as a business and playing with passion, depending on what suits our needs at the moment. In truth, that's a difficult mix, especially if the player in question happens to relish being part of his team. If Lakers fans want a dude who bleeds purple and gold, remember, that blood runs through his heart, a factory of emotion. Professionalism is and should be expected but at the same time, Pau's as human as the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

Imagine arriving to work each day with concerns about potentially getting transferred to an unknown destination. Not only are there rampant rumors around the office about a relocation, but you actually got transferred before the paperwork unexpectedly hit a snag and forced you to stay put. Since then, however, no reassurances of stability have been offered by your employer. Moreover, there are questions about the direction in which your company is moving, which makes your potential exit seem all the more believable.

Complicating matters even further? You happen to love the place you work.

Those claiming an ability to power through this without a hitch are, in my humble opinion, almost certainly liars. Nobody is 100 percent dialed into their job under the best of circumstances, much less trying ones. For me, professionalism boils down first and foremost to hard work, regardless of happiness. During fits of waning effectiveness, Pau doesn't appear to be dogging it out of dissatisfaction or indifference. He does, however, appear visibly distracted and periodically unfocused. Obviously, there's an onus on Pau to conquer this adversity. Along these particular lines, he's failing, and that's on him.

But I still understand the struggle, even if I don't entirely excuse it.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA.com's The Triangle

December, 31, 2010
12/31/10
9:34
AM PT


Andy Kamenetzky, Dave Miller, and Beto Duran debate the latest news surrounding the Lakers: Kobe Bryant's post-Christmas message to his teammates, an evaluation of what has gone wrong and how serious the problems are, and which Western Conference teams represent the biggest dangers going forward.

Plus, your weekly dose of Seen and Heard.


SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
26.4 4.1 1.2 35.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 9.8
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.5