SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Talk has been very cheap with this Bulls team throughout most of the season.
The coaches and players have used buzzwords like “communication’’ and “discipline’’ to hide what has been going on far too frequently during games.
Leave it to Pau Gasol to be realistic with it.
It comes down to selfishness and agendas, and until the players can push those obstacles aside, get used to more underachieving going on.
“What’s missing? That’s hard, hard to pinpoint,’’ Gasol first said on Wednesday, following the team’s morning shootaround. “When you look at a situation there’s always an accumulation of factors. Some can be discussed, some are hard to discuss.’’
That didn’t stop Gasol from not only discussing it, but diving head-on into it.
“At the end of the day we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘Are we doing enough? Are we doing enough to contribute? Am I worrying about the right things? Am I worrying about the collective or am I just worried about what I do on the floor or the shots that I take, how much am I scoring, how much am I playing?’ ‘’ Gasol said. “All those things are the wrong approach to winning, so I think if we are able and capable of changing that approach individually and collectively, I think we’ll be in a better place.
“Yes, we have injuries that are substantial and important, but at the same time there are a lot of teams that go through injuries, and some teams have suffered more than others, but I think our issue is more of that maturity issue or that mental togetherness that we need to bring every single night. Even when we have been healthy we’ve lost games and didn’t play the way we should have.
“Right now it’s just a harder stretch because the schedule is less favorable and we’re on the road, and it’s harder to. But if we bring the type of effort that we brought last game against Utah and we get away from the type of effort that we played with in the second half against the Clippers, we’re going to be fine. At least we’re going to be in games, have a chance to at least win those games, and that’s what we came here to try for, to work for.’’
Gasol was then asked if the habit of getting selfish in games was too hard to break, especially when a team has already play half the season with that mentality, and said, “I mean habits are hard to break. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you can build on them, you can build out of them. I think that’s a conscience effort that needs to happen, and it can happen. Once you put yourself to the side and you start putting the team first, and doing what’s best for the team. Understanding what do I have to do personally and individually for the better of the team, that’s when things start to work out and things happen the better way for you.’’
The team has not had a player meeting yet, and coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t called for a team meeting yet, but Gasol thinks either would be beneficial.
“I’m a fan of [meetings], especially when things aren’t going … you can put things on the table, discuss them as a group,’’ Gasol said. “[It can] come from the top, come from the coaching staff or the leaders of the team where they say, ‘Hey, this can’t go on or we need to discuss this.’ It’s just like companies when they have meetings to analyze and evaluate, ‘Hey, what are we doing guys? What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Let’s just talk about how we’re doing and how can we be better.’ I think that’s when things are really on the right path, when you approach all things like that.’’