Former Lakers center Pau Gasol, who signed with Chicago during the offseason, talked about what it was like letting his close friend and longtime teammate Kobe Bryant know of his decision to leave Los Angeles, in a report Saturday from Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Gasol, a four-time All-Star who won two championships with Bryant and the Lakers, signed a three-year, $22 million deal to play for the Bulls. The 34-year-old said in the report that it was very "difficult" to inform Bryant of the final decision after all that they've been through since he was traded to the Lakers from Memphis in 2008:
"It was difficult. We have a close friendship. 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."
Gasol had reportedly turned down multiple offers this summer. He was reportedly in talks with Knicks president Phil Jackson, who coached Gasol in Los Angeles, on going to New York on a reduced salary. He had also rejected multiple offers from the Lakers that would've paid him $23 million over two years or $29 million over three years. Gasol said in the ESPN report that he didn't base his decision on money, but rather which opportunity afforded him the best chance to win now.
- Marc Weinreich