Thursday, February 9, 2012
Pau Gasol left off All-Star roster
By Dave McMenamin
BOSTON -- Ever since Pau Gasol was nearly traded on the eve of training camp, it's been a difficult season for the Los Angeles Lakers' forward.
The 11-year veteran was averaging a career-low 16.4 points per game through the Lakers' first 25 games; Kobe Bryant publicly declared that Andrew Bynum had passed Gasol as the team's No. 2 scoring option; and the bad news continued Thursday as the Western Conference All-Star reserves were announced and Gasol was left off the list.
Gasol is a four-time All-Star and had been an All-Star in each of the three full seasons since joining the Lakers in Feb. 2008, but was bested by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Minnesota's Kevin Love as well as by his younger brother, Memphis' Marc Gasol, as the big men who will back up West starters Bynum, Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers and Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He learned of the snub before the Lakers played the Boston Celtics on Thursday when a reporter approached him while he was stretching on the court about 10 minutes before tipoff.
"I was like, 'Oh, [expletive], well, I'm happy for [Marc]," Gasol said after putting up 25 points, 14 rebounds and contributing a game-saving block on Boston's Ray Allen in the Lakers' 88-87 overtime win.
Gasol said the reporter was skeptical of his reaction to the news.
"Yeah, he's my brother," Gasol said. "I love him to death and he just makes me proud."
Even though Pau Gasol's averages of 16.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 50.3 percent shooting might be below his standards, they are still on par with his brother Marc's averages of 15.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.2 blocks per game on 49.3 percent shooting. Furthermore, the Lakers' 14-11 record coming into Thursday was better than the Grizzlies' 13-13 mark, yet Marc Gasol is set to become a first-time All-Star on Feb. 26 in Orlando and Pau Gasol will have to wait for his fifth All-Star selection.
"I want to congratulate to all the ones that have been picked by the fans and by the coaches," Gasol said. "I'm happy for my brother that he made it. He says a lot of him and of our family. I'm just really proud that he got to that level.
"Obviously I'm not excited that I didn't get picked. It's an honor and a great recognition for a player to be a part of an NBA All-Star [team], but it's been a crazy year and either way, obviously it would have been good if I was picked, but there's not much I can do about it."
His teammate Kobe Bryant, who will be making his 14th All-Star appearance as a starter in Orlando, was less gracious about the news.
"It's going to be extremely weird [not having Pau Gasol on the team]," Bryant said. "I really don't know how to react to it without saying anything that's disrespectful to some of our peers and contemporaries. I firmly believe Pau deserves to be there. He deserves to be there every single year simply because he's one of the best players in the league."
When asked if the coaches who voted on the reserves got it wrong, Gasol did point out what he felt was an imbalance in the roster.
"I don't vote," Gasol said. "I'm not a coach. It's surprising that they picked so many guards though. They picked three or four point guards. But, again, I don't make those calls and I congratulate each and every one of them. They're all great, amazing players and they all deserve to be there."
Phoenix's Steve Nash, San Antonio's Tony Parker and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook will back up the starting point guard, Chris Paul of the L.A. Clippers.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.