For Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, Thursday night was about warm embraces and happy memories. It was also a time to recall ugly breakups.
Gasol and Bryant met on the court for the first time (Kobe was injured last season) since the veteran center left L.A. and signed a three-year, $22-million deal with the Bulls in 2014. They never wanted to be on opposite sides.
Kobe said that Pau told him in '14 offseason, "I want to play with you forever, but what management did to me was disrespectful."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 29, 2016
It all started in 2012 when Gasol was rumored to be part of a three-way deal that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers and sent the two-time champion to the Rockets. Gasol never got over the lack of loyalty from the Lakers. He was hurt.
“I understood where he’s coming from,” Bryant said. “I went over and hung out at his pad for hours and we just talked. It was a pride thing for him. It was like, we’re brothers. He said, ‘Kobe, I want to play with you forever, but what [Lakers] management did to me is just disrespectful.’
From an individual standpoint, the move has worked out pretty well for the 35-year-old Spaniard, who has played some of the best basketball of his career with the Bulls.
Gasol had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Bulls defeated the Lakers 114-91.