Pau Gasol - Renaissance Man (ESPN)

Uploaded by paugasol on 10.11.2011

To me there's so much more in life than one thing,
two things, ten things, a hundred things...
Basketball has been most of my life,
but at the same time my interest was beyond basketball.
Born and raised in Barcelona (Spain), thirty-year-old Lakers power forward
Pau Gasol is the NBA's Renaissance Man.
The seven-footer is as comfortable running the triangle-offence with Kobe Bryant
as he is discussing opera with renowned tenor Placido Domingo
or relaxing at the piano after a game.
Usually when I play it's when I'm tired or worn-out mentally
and I just sit down and enjoy the time with the piano,
you know, just away from the world.
Pau is a gracefully person as I know him. He's very comfortable, I think, in his own skin.
He's a well-rounded person. He's just so well-mannered, so polite.
You know just generally, he's a nice guy.
You know how are players gonna take on the persona of your city?
What makes you a Barcelona guy?
Very modern, very cosmopolitan, very open, very international...
I think it got a great taste, and it's open-minded like I am.
While he plays more than six thousand miles from his home-land,
Gasol has become an icon in a country rapidly falling in love with basketball.
And he's one of Spain's more showed actor pitchman
Take aim, dude!
Just keep still! Just keep still!
Pau's one of the greatest sportsman of Spain and the first to go to the NBA and really win.
A big, big superstar.
Put me in perspective for me, how popular he is here?
He's a rock star! He's like, I don't know, he's a rock star now.
In a country where soccer is practically a religion,
young Gasol had to look abroad to find his basketball heroes.
My idol when I was growing up was Michael, Michael Jordan.
MJ was, you know, the guy that I admired the most.
Describe how into the NBA you were as a kid.
I was into it more right after the Dream Team.
Gasol was twelve years old when the Dream Team
came to Barcelona for the 1992 summer olympics.
I started buying the NBA magazines, I started hanging up all the posters in my room,
buying jerseys of Magic, Larry and Michael.
So did you ever think that you could be that guy on the poster for some little kid?
No, I never even dreamt about it. It's just another planet, something unreachable.
With the NBA at distant dream, Gasol focused on more traditional pursuits.
I was competitive also at school, like I wanted to get the best rates.
And to me it was a good feeling to compete against the smartest guys in the school.
Even though I was doing music, I was doing basketball after school...
I was still competitive in class.
Gasol is remembered by his former teachers as the youngster they
jokingly called "pequeñin", or tiny.
They still keep the momentum of his time there.
My fat knees won't fit here, right? so I would always be playing like this,
making noises and all that, right? So it was uncomfortable for me
at a certain point so I told them: "There's just one thing we can do:
Just air it up a piece", see? as you can see here.
They set it up this much, so this is more my size.
- And this is more my speed. - There you go!
The son of a doctor and a hospital administrator, Gasol initially
wanted to follow in his parents' footsteps. As an eighteen-year-old
he enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona.
At the same time, his basketball skills were blossoming, and in
1999 he signed with the Euroleague Basketball giant FC Barcelona
for more than 100,000$ a year. How did you do both?
Well it was hard but it was so demanding I didn't have any personal life whatsoever.
So I was just dedicated to play and study, play and study.
- What was your favorite? - I liked to go into the lab and
actually work on bodies, which was so fascinating to see what we
actually are inside and what we will become.
There was people that were playing there that had a life,
had a family… It's cold, it's a cruel reality.
So you'd be working on cadavers in the morning,
and then go to practice to play ball at night.
Yeah, for the most part.
- Next day? - I did it all over again.
So it was intense, but it really made me grow really quick.
How did you sit in these desks?
I was sit on the back, that's why I always had such a hard time and
I go to the opera, and I was always like sitting, I was feeling so bad for the guy behind me,
I am always like trying to slide like this, giving better view.
- So you always sat on the background. - Yeah, I did.
- That's very helpful. - I try to be helpful.
Gasol's empathy is not limited to fellow opera patrance.
He spends pat of his off-seasons working as an ambassador for UNICEF.
This past summer he travelled to Ethiopia to help fight childhood malnutrition.
I think to have that impact on people is such a beautiful thing.
I'm so thankful that basketball has given me the chance to experience so many things.
Gasol's game on the court is as varied as his life is off of it.
A Renaissance Man on the hardwood as well.
Gasol backs it in with five tenths of a second remaining!
From the middle he has no reach. He can shoot the ball, he can handle the ball,
he can pass the ball, he can defend, block shots, he can steel, he can move his feet.
The ability to take the ball off the rebound, push it into the court,
go between the legs, make the decision…
Despite his arrayed skills, Gasol has been his entire career
fighting the perception that he lacks toughness.
It's a label that's been with him since he was drafted third overall in 2001,
through his 6 plus years with the Memphis wish list and
even after being traded to the Lakers in 2008.
He does not like to be called soft.
He hates it, it gets the hair off his skin.
It pisses me off and it touches my insides a little bit.
I'm a sensitive person.
In what way?
You know, certain things affect me more than they should.
- Do you think he's sensitive? - Yes.
- He says you tease him a lot. - A lot.
So for example, how did he tease you?
Yeah he's just teasing in a serious condescending funny ironic way.
I walk him into the weight room once while I'm telling this is where we gain
some weigth and some strength.
I mean he's not, you know, sensitive,
Noone would really think that like he's teasing or he's really crying with hands, that's not it at all.
The criticism of Gasol's toughness peaked during the 2008 NBA finals against the Celtics.
Gasol was pushed around in the decisive game six, turning the ball
over five times in the Lakers humiliating 39-point loss
The next pre-season that came in, you know, I dedicated myself more to the weight room.
I was committed to getting ready not just for the regular season but for the finals.
The hard work paid off. Since the away finals loss, Gasol has made two all-star teams
and one, two, championship rings. In game seven of the 2010 finals,
also against the Celtics, Gasol shed the "soft label" for good finishing with
19 points and 18 rebounces.
How is he different in these year's finals than in away?
I think he's more confident, with the steps doing on the floor
he believes he's the best proposed player in the league.
Whether he's in Los Angeles, Barcelona or any other corner of the globe,
Pau Gasol doesn't believe in boundaries. Basketball is his job and his passion.
But the world is his court.
In basketball my career is limited and I'll play until who knows when.
But after that, I still wanna be able to do a lot of other things.
I don't like to be in a little box or in a bigger box. I just like to be open.