Pau Gasol Praises World-Class Toughness of Injured Kobe Bryant

CHICAGO — On perhaps the best day of Pau Gasol’s new life away from the Los Angeles Lakers, and there have been many happy days, one piece of bad news did not go overlooked.

“Kobe got hurt again, huh?” he said late Thursday night without being prompted.

Gasol’s eyes were soft, his intuitive bedside manner kicking in the way it always has whether representing UNICEF or kneeling down to connect eye-to-eye with sick kids in hospitals or refraining from ever telling Mike D’Antoni to go fly a kite.

He had learned he’d been voted in as an All-Star Game starter by the fans for the first time in his 14-year NBA career, a just reward for his truly brilliant basketball with the Chicago Bulls and also a byproduct of the well-chronicled success he enjoyed in Los Angeles as Bryant’s trusted second.

Gasol set aside his pride at the accomplishment—and that his brother Marc was also voted in as a starter—to consider the plight of his Lakers brother after Bryant suffered a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

What he could not and would not do is set aside Bryant’s pride. Gasol was unwavering in his belief that Bryant, 36, will battle back yet again from his third major injury in three years and give the Lakers and their fans something sweet rather than this bitter taste for his last meal.

“Injuries are a tough break, but he’ll continue to go, continue to fight through it,” Gasol said. “He loves the game. He’s such a huge competitor. And he’s very proud to represent the Lakers. It’s the only team he has played for, and he takes pride in that.”

Gasol is 34, only two years younger than Bryant. Yet while Bryant’s body can’t keep it together anymore, the Spanish big man is experiencing an inspiring revival this seaso...

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