When Coach Mike D’Antoni signed on with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, he was less than complimentary of Pau Gasol. Granted, the Spaniard had even admitted that he was struggling athletically, but D’Antoni made public comments in the media that seemed to put a small rift between the two.
This season, however, D’Antoni is not going to make that mistake.again. Leading up to training camp, and during the off-season, he has had a positive attitude toward Pau. He recently said:
“But let me say this about Pau Gasol: to me, he’s the best center in the NBA. I can say that now, and whether I’m totally 100 percent right, people can argue with me. They may rank him second, or third, or eighth. I don’t know, but his pedigree is he wins at everything he does. He has two championships (and international titles). I don’t think there’s even an argument about who the most skilled big man is, when you put it all together. There are some that look at a Picasso or a Monet, and like one or the other, and that’s why they have talk shows. But it’s silly to think anything different than that he’s a great, great player.”
The best center in the NBA is up for grabs, and opinion as D’Antoni said, but chances are that most people wouldn’t have Pau in the top three (let alone the best). He’s still good, but clearly exiting his prime. Also, he’s being asked to shoot more long-range jumpers this season, which likely won’t help his stats, because logically you’ll make less the further that you get from the hoop.
It’s still good to see that the coach is trying to build a rapport with his center though, rather than tearing him down.