Lakers and Pau-Werful Gaswan: Why Pau Gasol Isn’t Soft

The word around Tinseltown is that Pau Gasol, the 2008 Steal of the Year, is soft.

I beg to differ.

Before I begin my tirade, please forgive me—this article is in “stream of consciousness” mode.

Let me begin with a distinction that must be made: mental softness versus physical softness. 

I believe when people say that Pau Gasol is soft, they are referring to his lack of a “killer instinct” or mental toughness.  This is most surely a falsehood.

I have a hard time believing that a back-to-back champion lacks the mental wherewithal to show up to an important game with a tough, “winning-time” mindset.  Just look at the rings. The only remnant of Garnett’s toughness from Game 7 is his forehead sweat on the basket’s pole padding.

Many people mistake Pau’s “physical softness” for “mental softness”. Simply put, Pau is a soft man.  His genetic makeup does not naturally allow him to bang in the interior.  It does allow him to swoop, dive and glide to two points (and occasionally one more).

To put it another way, what makes Pau great is his ability to finish in ways most big-men can’t.  Pau can handle the ball like the 1, shoot the ball like the 2, and post up like the traditional 4 or 5.  The only thing that might come at a slight expense is his biceps.

What can I say? God is fair.

Can we really call a man soft if he puts up the numbers?  Pau gets the same stats (20 points, +10 rebounds, four assists, 2.5 steals/blocks a game) as any other “tough” big man in the game. Do we really have a right to complain about his musculature?  I just can’t see “double digit rebounds” and “soft” in the same sentence (other than the one you just read).

Can you?

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