Kobe Bryant liked to tell people that he didn’t have time for his friends. Not in the sense that most people have friends with whom they regularly talk or grab a bite to eat when they are in the same neighborhood.
Once on the trademark, Bryant even registered the slogan “Friends hang sometimes, banners hang forever.”
Pau Gasol heard it over and over again.
Yes, he said, “I don’t have time for friends. I’m too busy trying to achieve something, to be the best there or to achieve greatness. I don’t have time for sentimental things,” Gasol said. “He would say that publicly, and there’s a kernel of truth in that. But … ”
The creature knew the truth.
Alongside these harsh words was a sensitive father of four daughters who was always there when the gas called.
“He’s the closest thing to a big brother I’ve ever had in my life,” Gasol said.
Wrong: The film is not specified.Pau Gasol knew Kobe Bryant like few others – and he cherishes every one of those memories, big and small. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
They took no selfies together when they met for dinner in the final years of their careers, or after Bryant left the NBA in 2016. The only indication of the close relationship between Bryant and Gasol came mostly in the form of #hermano hashtags – brother in Spanish – on Twitter or Instagram.
Gasol needs no praise. He already knew how close his friendship with Bryant was. But he was proud that he had forced Bryant to open up and show the world this side of him.
“You could see his toughness, his tenacity, his desire, his hunger, his mamba mentality. . . But he had a very soft, very loving side.”
Pau Gasoline on Kobe Bryant.
“You could see his toughness, his bite, his desire, his hunger, Mamba’s mentality of always being the best, working harder than others,” Gasol said. “But he had a very soft, very loving side.”
In the closing stages of his career, Bryant began to tip the scales and show the world what Gasol was doing.
“I’m naturally more inclined to show my gentleness on a personal and emotional level, and I think that’s something that may have affected him in some way,” Gasol said. “Would I say that it’s normal to be normal or to be kind and vulnerable or gentle sometimes. We don’t always have to be so hard and be on our guard”.
Matt Barnes didn’t know it was Gasol who released Bryant, but he certainly noticed when he was released.
I remember one time we were on a bus in Phoenix and I asked Kobe, “Why can’t the rest of the world see how strong you are, Mom?” Barnes, who played with Bryant and Gasol from 2010 to 2012. “I literally asked him that question in front of everybody.” And Kobe said, “I can’t show these moms that I have a kid, that.
“I think that was part of the whole Mamba mentality. But if you lowered his defense, or if you got through the wall, Kobe was cool ……”
Gasol still has a hard time talking about Bryant’s death. When he talks about January 26, Gasol immediately thinks of the helicopter crash that killed the former Los Angeles Lakers star, his daughter Gianna and seven other people.
He was in Spain at the time, driving home with his wife Kat, when his phone started receiving messages and text messages.
“You start to go into a trance where you are completely frozen,” he says. “You’re in a state of shock. You can’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it for days, weeks.
“They still thought Coby could have gotten out of the accident on his own and dragged his daughter – and if there were other survivors – with him to the hospital.”
“We had this idea that he was so strong, so invincible. If anyone could survive, it was him.”
Error. specified.Don’t film specified.Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant together to win two championships in Los Angeles. Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images.
Gasol said he had cried for days, bewildered and broken, shocking everyone at once. But soon he realized what he had to do.
“We just booked a flight [to California],” he said. “We decided we had to be there and we went. We didn’t know if we were going for a week, two weeks or a month, but we had to be there.
“We wanted to be there for Vanessa and the kids and be there as Uncle Pau for anything they needed.”
Pau Gasol in the days after the helicopter crash.
“We wanted to be there for Vanessa and the kids and be there as Uncle Pau for anything they needed.”
For months, Benzols stayed near the Bryants’ home in Orange County, often visiting family and trying to support them in the face of an unimaginable tragedy.
Uncle Pau sent flowers to Vanessa for the couple’s 19th wedding anniversary in April and a birthday cake for Gianna’s 14th birthday in May.
In August, the Gasols and Bryants took a boat ride in the San Francisco Bay Area and dressed up as Star Wars characters for Halloween. And when Gasols’ first child was born in September, it was named after Gianna.
“My daughter’s full name is Elizabeth Gianna Gasol,” he said. “This is not only a way to honor Gianna, but to always have her. They are our family, and how can you have them more than when you have them in your daughter’s or son’s name?
“We’ve had more problems with his last name than with his middle name. He means so much, the name. The kindness, the heart that Gianna had, the talent, just with the hardness she showed. Her father and mother in her, that’s what we care about, and that’s why she’s called Elizabeth Gianna”.
Over the years, Gasol attended Gianna Bryant’s basketball games and watched her talent blossom.
“She could have changed women’s basketball,” Ms. Gasol said. “I hope it happens again, but she was so important, so significant to the game, what she could have meant. So I think we should have her gift and not let her death take away the impact she could have had.
This is where Gasol finds solace now, almost a year after the deaths of Coby and Gianna.
There is still sadness and shock. He says he will never fly a helicopter.
“Every time I see him, it upsets me,” he said.
But Gasol says he knows he is doing exactly what his older brother wanted to do: taking care of Vanessa and their three daughters and helping others learn from Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.
“It was important for him to share his knowledge, inspire others and touch people’s lives,” Mr. Gasol said.
Bryant’s eagerness to connect reminded Gasol of his first contact with him. They knew each other as rivals early in their careers, when Bryant was winning championships with Shaquille O’Neal in Los Angeles and Gasol was trying to get the Memphis Grizzlies over the cliff.
Then a chance encounter changed the course of their lives. In the summer of 2007, while on vacation in his hometown of Barcelona, Bryant accidentally ran out of gas while working out in his hotel’s gym.
“It’s crazy what happened,” Gasol said. “We talked about him leaving the Lakers and possibly transferring to Chicago. There was also talk about wanting to be in a different situation than Memphis at the time and where the franchise was going.
“So I said, ‘Well, maybe one day we’ll play together.’” Well, you never know. I don’t think I could take it if the Grizzlies traded me to the Lakers. But a few months later, just when I thought it wouldn’t happen, it did. And I ended up joining him and the Lakers at the perfect time when everything fell into place and we had the most amazing time.”
But after a terrific mid-season turnaround in which the Lakers would have gone to three consecutive NBA Finals and won two titles, there was no reason to celebrate.
No, Bryant knocked on Gasol’s hotel room door at 1:30 in the morning and told him how it would go.
The first night I landed in Washington to join the team, after the medical exams, he came to my room and said, “Hey, I’m really happy to have you. I’m really glad you’re here, but now let’s win a championship,” Gasol said.
“I mean, it doesn’t get more obvious than that. ” He made sure I knew right away where he stood. There is no confusion: “This is what I want. This is where I am, and this is where I will need you.” Will you be there? Will you participate or not?
The fuel was ready.
“I wanted this opportunity so badly,” he said. “This was my chance, and I didn’t want to miss it.”
In their first game together, Bryant was even bigger. He fed Gasol early to help him get going, often addressed him on the field in Spanish – so his opponents couldn’t understand him – and generally maintained this demanding style every minute of every game in the more than six seasons they played together.
“He can be tough. There’s no doubt about that,” Benzene said.
On Tuesday, the anniversary of Bryant’s death, SportsCenter will present a special bond between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant throughout the day.
“There were times when I had to hug Poe and tell him everything was going to be okay,” Barnes said. “Because [Bryant] would curse that mother … in every language you could think of.”
That’s how Bryant will be remembered as a player. The bite, the determination, the right by the media. (Remember the whole story of the black and white swan that Bryant shot to motivate him to be more aggressive and physical)?
But that’s not how he will remember his older brother.
“It seemed like our relationship was destined to come together,” Mr. Gasol said. “And now, after his loss and Gigi’s, it brought us closer to what he meant to me, who he was, what he gave to my life and obviously his family and now my family as I see it.
“He was someone I will miss for the rest of my life, but he will be there in everything I do.”
Frequently asked questions
Pau Gasol was friends with Kobe Bryant?
Kobe Bryant and his former teammate Pau Gasol developed a particularly close bond with the Los Angeles Lakers that continued long after their last game together. After Kobe’s untimely death, Jan.
What is the connection between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant?
Gasol and Bryant were teammates with the Lakers from 2008 to 2014, winning two championships together in 2009 and 2010.
Coby was found with his daughter?
Bryant was on his way from Orange County to his daughter’s tournament at Thousand Oaks Sports Academy on the morning of…. Jan. 26 … Bryant’s body was found on one side of the wreckage and his daughter in a ravine on the other.