Why Lakers Fans Should Root for Pau Gasol to Succeed with Chicago Bulls

Six-and-a-half years after Pau Gasol arrived in Los Angeles, bringing grace, dignity and his immense basketball talent, he made the decision to leave, saying goodbye to the Los Angeles Lakers and hello to the Chicago Bulls.

The announcement came from the two-time NBA champion last Saturday through his Twitter account, with typical thoughtful candor.

He followed up through his personal blog, expressing the difficulty of the decision as well as appreciation for teammates and fans. He also acknowledged the reality of a difficult rebuilding process: “I have no doubt the Lakers will be a top contender in the future. Unfortunately, the Lakers’ timetable does not align with mine.”

It’s both a diplomatic and honest assessment.

Lakers followers and observers treated the news with a mixture of wistfulness, appreciation and hopes for Gasol’s success. This wasn’t about being spurned for more money or taking the easy way out.

He was a fan favorite, a player who genuinely seemed to relish being a Laker. But he was torn between loyalty to an organization that didn’t always extend him the same courtesy and the desire for a fresh start with a team that, quite frankly, has its act more together at this point in time.

Gasol deserves a chance to win wherever he goes, and Lakers fans understand that. They can also appreciate, perhaps with some chagrin, the ultimate truthfulness he expressed in his blog back in April—that money would not be the deciding factor in his free-agency decision:

Money isn’t important to me. I have other priorities. A contract lasting several seasons, the make-up of the team that signs me: I’ll need to think long and hard. I won’t just go to the franchise that offers me the biggest salary, I know that.

He didn’t just talk the talk, but he actually walked away with ...

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