‘Played the Right Way’: Russell Westbrook Explains Why Pau Gasol Was His Favorite Player Before Kobe Bryant

Published 10/06/2021, 12:52 AM EDT
Lakers Pau Gasol is fouled by Thunders Russell Westbrook in Game 5 of the Western Conference Playoffs Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


Lakers legend Pau Gasol recently decided to hang up his boots after a storied 23-year career 19. Most recently playing for Barcelona, the two-time NBA champion had to make the ‘difficult decision’ to retire. Recently, new Laker, Russell Westbrook reacted to the news and gave his respect to the big man. He revealed that Gasol was his favorite player growing up before another legend.

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Gasol won back-to-back championships with the purple and gold. For his achievements with the organisation, the Lakers are reportedly planning on retiring his jersey number, 16. Pau and Kobe Bryant made their names as one of the best duos in the NBA in their time together.

Lakers’ Pau Gasol during the game. LA Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on Apr. 12, 2011. (Photo by Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Not only did Pau dominate on the floor, but he played a huge role in revolutionizing the center position. He showed the league that big men can also make plays and score on all levels. Following his retirement, here is what Westbrook said about Gasol.

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Westbrook says Pau Gasol was his favorite player

Recently, while talking to the media, Westbrook spoke about Gasol. Despite a hilarious interruption by current Lakers’ big, Anthony Davis, he spoke about Gasol in the highest regard possible. Westbrook said that growing up, Gasol was his favorite player.

He explained saying: “Not many people know this, Pau was actually my favorite player growing up before like Kobe. Because I just liked how he played the game. I feel like he played the game right. He is a big man I know, so I play like a big. But he played the right way. He could pass it, shoot it, score. To me, I just liked the way he played the game at his size. It was kind of somebody I kinda always looked at. I wouldn’t say like modeled my game after, but I liked the way he played game and always played the right way.”

This was truly a great gesture by Brodie towards Pau Gasol. He faced off against Pau and Kobe a number of times during his time in OKC. Despite having been an opponent, he showed true sportsmanship for a fellow competitor.

Westbrook battles with Kobe-Pau duo

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Westbrook went up against the Lakers 33 times when Kobe and Pau played as a duo. Surprisingly, the Brodie holds a winning record in both regular season and playoffs against the former Laker duo. However, they both have one playoff series each in their favor.

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Westbrook went up against the Lakers in the 2010 and 2012 playoffs. in 2010, the Lakers got the best of a young OKC team. Eventually, they went on to win the championship that season. In their next battle, Westbrook and Oklahoma got the best of the Lakers in 5 games.

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Overall, Westbrook averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 33 games against Kobe and Pau Gasol. Now that he is a Laker, do you think he can finally win a championship with LeBron James and AD? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

392 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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