Kobe and Pau have been teammates since Gasol was traded from the Grizzlies to the Lakers in 2008. Pau became a three-time All-Star with the Lakers and won two championships with the team. The two were leaders on the squad, and every time Pau was mentioned in trade talks, Kobe was there to back and support him.
But this was Pau’s first time as a free agent, and the allure of playing for a more competitive team and different organization was too much, so he signed with the Bulls — even though he would have made more with the Lakers.
“It was difficult. We have a close friendship,” Gasol said Friday via ESPN. “We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m sure I will miss him. But we talked to each other and our relationship goes beyond basketball and we’ll always have a friendship.
“It was difficult to talk to him, but he was very supportive and he understood. He just said I had to do what was best for me and what felt right for me and he was going to support me no matter what. That’s what friends and brothers do, and that’s what we are.”
You might have some questions about whether or not Kobe would be supportive of a friend leaving him, but it says a lot about their friendship that Kobe understood. Heck, how could anyone blame Pau for finally leaving? The Lakers shopped him year-in and year-out the last several seasons. Why wouldn’t he want to test the market and see what other franchises have to offer?
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