NBA’s Spanish Renaissance: Pau Gasol Has Become Lakers’ Most Valuable Player

When someone questions your talent, you strive to play better, the motivation is easy to find. When someone questions your toughness, the motivation is difficult to find, and you must dedicate yourself to becoming stronger not just physically, but perhaps most importantly, mentally. 

Changing your identity as a basketball player is no easy task, and only the ones with the most sincere determination will truly transform themselves, and change their game for the better.

The Los Angeles Lakers transformation from a talented, but soft team in the 2008 NBA Finals, to a team now back to back champions in 2009 and 2010, is centered around one player, Pau Gasol. 

June 17th, 2008, Pau Gasol's nightmare is finally over. Six games of being outplayed, and out hustled are finally done. In the aftermath of the series, the critics of Pau Gasol were harmonious in their analysis, "He needs to be tougher, stronger, more physical."

After watching Celtics big men Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins toss him around, culminating in a 39 point blowout in the decisive game 6, Pau realized if he wanted to become an elite player, he needed to work on more than his basketball skills in the summer.

During the 2008 season, the Lakers traded for Pau from the Memphis Grizzlies, for a deal involving several players and draft picks, including Kwame Brown, and the rights to Pau's brother Marc. The Lakers gave little talent to Memphis, and Kobe Bryant had his first talented big man partner since Shaquille O'Neal's departure in 2004.

In the 2009 season, you could see Pau was a different player right away. He was stronger, adding extra muscle in the weight room, and playing with a purpose, like a man deeply determined to show everyone he could do better than his performance in the '08 Finals. 

The 2009 season ended the way the Lakers had hoped it would have the&...

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