LOS ANGELES -- This is going to seem harsh, and that's not the intent. So keep that in mind when you read the following words:
Pau Gasol sucks.
OK, that was harsh. And not entirely true. Gasol doesn't suck at being 7 feet tall. He has that mastered. He also doesn't suck at passing the ball. And his career numbers -- 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.8 blocks per game -- are nice and tidy.
|Who has the big edge in the paint, Duncan or Gasol? That's no toss-up. (Getty Images)|
Pau Gasol's basketball card is a liar. And everyone who propagates the lie is either a willing part of the conspiracy, or a patsy. Take your pick. You know who you are.
Pau Gasol? I know who he is. He's Craig Counsell.
Wrong sport, I know. But Counsell is my ace in the hole. If we were playing poker over the concept of Pau Gasol's greatness, and you led with the 18.8 ppg he averaged this season, I'd see you with Mike Dunleavy (19.1 ppg) and I'd raise you Gerald Wallace (19.4 ppg). You'd respond by noting the Lakers became this season's NBA front-runner only after acquiring Gasol. Fine. I'd counter by slapping down a Craig Counsell baseball card and laughing in your mystified face.
Because you don't get the comparison. You weren't there for the Florida Marlins in 1997, when they had all these great parts but were missing one final piece. Before the trade deadline they were a winning club, but they were headed for next year. No World Series. No playoffs. But then they added Craig Counsell, and they took off. Wild-card berth. Division Series. Pennant. World Series. Because Craig Counsell put them over the edge. He wasn't a great player. But he was the player the Marlins needed to be great.
Same with the Lakers and Pau Gasol. Before adding Gasol this season, the Lakers were a quality team in the Western Conference, which means they were going to be the fifth or sixth seed in the playoffs and then need luck to get out of the first round. Once Gasol joined the lineup, the Lakers went 27-9 to earn the top seed in the West. They swept Denver. Beat Utah. Lead the Spurs 1-0 entering Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Pau Gasol is the Lakers' Craig Counsell. He's a pro. He's the missing piece. But he's not a superstar, and if you're going to tell me he is, I'm going to tell you something equally unreasonable but equally true: Pau Gasol sucks.
Gasol averaged 18.8 ppg and 8.4 rpg this season, pretty much his career numbers, but he's difficult to watch. Difficult to watch is a euphemism for something else, something nastier, something I'm not afraid to say.
Pau Gasol is soft.
He's careless. He leaves so many baskets on the floor, it's criminal. I realize Gasol is from Spain, but in Hawaiian the word Pau means "finish," which is an absolute joke. Pau, finish? Only if he were born in Helsinki.