Pau Gasol: Kobe Bryant understood

Updated: July 19, 2014, 12:29 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

Pau Gasol officially said goodbye to 6½ years with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday as he was welcomed to the Chicago Bulls during his introductory news conference.

But before he could totally turn the page, Gasol reflected on what it was like to bid farewell to one certain former Lakers teammate: Kobe Bryant.

[+] EnlargePau Gasol
David Banks/USA TODAY Sports"It was difficult to talk to [Kobe], but he was very supportive and he understood," Pau Gasol said. "He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what."

"It was difficult," Gasol told reporters when asked about informing Bryant of his decision to sign with the Bulls. "We have a close friendship. We've been through a lot together, and I'm sure I will miss him. But we talked to each other and our relationship goes beyond basketball and we'll always have a friendship.

"It was difficult to talk to him, but he was very supportive and he understood. He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what. That's what friends and brothers do, and that's what we are."

Gasol signed a three-year, $22 million with Chicago after turning down multiple offers from the Lakers, including a two-year, $23 million deal and a three-year, $29 million extension.

The 34-year-old Gasol said that he made his decision based on Chicago's title chances, hoping to add a ring to the pair he won with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

"Money obviously wasn't the priority here," Gasol said. "I turned down bigger offers and I prioritized being on a championship-caliber team and being in a position where I can hopefully put that team over the top with my game as well. I felt that here I was going to have that opportunity, and now it's just a matter of getting to work."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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