Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol: A Rebirth of the Lakers’ Deadliest Duo

The pairing of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in Los Angeles has been a five-year tale of championship glory and bitter frustration.

But a trade for future Hall of Famer Steve Nash has immediately resurrected one of the deadliest duos in basketball, and Bryant knows it.

Rewind to the 2012 NBA Playoffs for a moment.

It was Kobe Bryant—flag bearer for the Lakers organization—openly questioning Pau Gasol's performance in the Thunder and Nuggets series.

Gasol, it was viewed, was not looking for his shot, lacking aggressiveness and executing below the world-class standard expected of the 11-year veteran.

Few expressed as much frustration for Gasol's timid play as No. 24, and Gasol inevitably found himself on the tip of every trade rumor during the Lakers' second-straight season of disappointment.

Fast forward a mere two-and-a-half months later with the basketball world focused on the 2012 London Olympics.

Would Pau Gasol—flag bearer for his native country Spain—still be the ire of Bryant on the international stage?

"As long as I'm [with the Lakers], [Pau's] going to be there," Kobe confirmed when asked by reporters during training for the London Olympics.

Asked again of Pau's future a week later, Bryant still stood strong: "If they want to get rid of him, [the Lakers] have to get rid of me first."

Defying the skeptics doubtful of Gasol's ability to regain elite status, Bryant drew a firm line in the sand.

And standing right beside the five-time NBA champion, as he has for so many hard-fought playoff series, was his Spanish comrade and main amigo of five years.

"Proud of mi hermano," Bryant's Facebook page read as the two posed for a memorable photo at the Olympic opening ceremonies (pictured).

It's hard to recall the last time Bryant appeared so excited to play alongside Gasol.

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers