Pau Gasol Reveals How Kobe Bryant Motivated Him Following 2008 Finals Loss Against Celtics

Published 05/13/2021, 4:30 PM EDT
(Orlando, Florida – Sunday, June 14, 2009) Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant share a warm embrace at center court as they realize victory is certain over the Magic in game five of the NBA Finals at Amway Arena. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)


The Los Angeles Lakers have always had an elite big man in every championship run. So when they went on a drought from 2003 to 2007, they traded for Pau Gasol who could partner Kobe Bryant to lead them to a title once again.

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In his first season with the Lakers, Gasol reached the Finals, but sadly lost to the Celtics. It only got worse for the Spaniard who then lost the Olympics finals a few months later to USA. Those were some tough months for Gasol. During a recent interview, he revealed how Kobe motivated him to bounce back from these losses.

He said, “When we lost to the Celtics in the Finals and they beat us in the Olympic finals in China in 2008, he came in the next preseason training camp and he brought his gold medal to the locker room. He put it in my locker.

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“‘We lost the Finals last year, which was very painful. You lost the Olympics against us. Don’t allow yourself to lose again in this season. We gotta win the championship.’ That’s how he motivated me to step it up a notch that season.”

Tough love from Kobe Bryant helped Pau Gasol and the Lakers to overcome their previous defeat

The 2008 Finals loss was the Lakers‘ second Finals loss since 2003. But now they were determined to put these losses behind and return to where they belonged. They didn’t make any big moves in the off-season because they trusted that the existing team could go all the way.

Lakers Kobe Bryant consoles Pau Gasol late in the 4th quarter against the Spurs in Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center Sunday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Lakers finished the season with the best record in the Western Conference with 65 wins. They faced the Jazz in the first round and the Lakers beat them in five games. In the second round, they faced the Rockets. This was an extremely tough series for them. But after six intense games the Lakers blew out the Rockets in Game 7.

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The Lakers then defeated the Nuggets in the Conference Finals in six games in a series that was highlighted by the battle between Kobe and Carmelo Anthony.

They returned to the NBA Finals to face the Magic. Following an incredible performance by their stars Kobe and Pau, the Lakers triumphed in five games, ending their title drought. It was the first major title win of Gasol’s career and it was Bryant’s fourth ring. They won the title once again next season to seal their status as one of the most iconic duos in Lakers history.

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Aaron Mathew

1630 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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