To put things in perspective, Gasol really dominated the entire series, with totals of 18.6 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, and 2.6 blocks per game. While Kobe decided not to show up for games 3 and 7 (and only shot 31% for the entire series), Gasol was busy holding it down as the true MVP of the Lakers. There used to be a point in time when I referred to Gasol as Pu**y Soft Pau, a name that alluded to his unfortunate case of European descent. That is what the European’s are known as in this league– soft. I thought the nickname had a little bit of everything– with a dab of wit, humor, vulgarity, and use of a truthful stereotype. Pau seemed to be another non confrontational European that would continue to be mired by this overseas style of play. But I’m a man who is willing to bite the bullet when I’m wrong. And Jesus H. was I wrong about this Gangbanger Gasol (I’m still working on cooler nicknames, but hopefully this one won a chuckle or two). He has simply decimated everything and everyone in his way these past two postseasons, and will ultimately go down as one of the best acquisitions to ever be free. Did I mention the Lakers got him for free?
If Pau seems to be the problem, then what is the solution you may ask. Well, in a finals series that saw Perk go down to one of the most significant injuries in all of sports (at the most significant period of time, nonetheless) and Rasheed Wallace try to break Antoine Walker’s franchise record for 3 pointers during the season, more size seems to be the answer. One could argue that losing Perk for Game 7 did us in. The beast had disappeared, and with him the title. I would tend to argue differently though. Despite his proclivity to hoist 3′s throughout the season, Sheed stepped up when we needed him (like Toine did from time to time in the playoffs as well). The big man actually played like a big. Sheed brought his game down to the post, and also pulled down 8 rebounds in his 30 some odd minutes– nothing to wag a finger at. Of course if he came off the bench, the depth he would have provided in spelling Perk and KG would have been much more useful throughout the contest.
But the real question of game 7 is where was KG? And how was the rebounding margin THAT bad? It was absolutely pitiful. Paul Pierce led the team with 10 boards while KG had– 3?! On the other end of things Gasol had 18 (Again…18!) and Kobe had 15. I’ve never been a huge fan of KG’s style of play. He in no way represents a true big man on the offensive end with all of the shots he takes from the perimeter, but he still retains a tenacity at the age of 34 that few of any age possess. With Perk questionable in the early going of next season, and KG only continuing to age, the addition of Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal is absolutely imperative.
With an inability to rebound when it counted, as well as being at the mercy of Gasol in the finals, the O’Neal’s help rectify that deficiency. While these two men are by no means fresh roses themselves, they have proven over the past several seasons that they are more than serviceable. Presently Shaq is working on one of the longest NBA careers in the history of the league. Though he is 100% guaranteed to miss time throughout the season, I refuse to find merit in any argument opposing his arrival. This is Big Diesel we are talking about here. The man is a Demigod within the NBA community. MJ was still garnering praise and support through his later playing days with the Wizards, and don’t even try to say Shaq hasn’t had an impact similar to MJ’s. Again, I don’t claim to be a genius when it comes to basketball strategy. But I do know that putting a 325 pound monster in the lane is going to help minimize baskets for the other team.
The other O’Neal is an interesting figure. My early days with the Celtics required me to hate Jermaine with everything I had. For 3 consecutive seasons the C’s played O’Neal’s Pacers in the playoffs. For the final two meetings, the Celtics were embarrassed, though in obverse manners. Despite a lengthy career dating back to 1996, Jermaine is still only 31 years old, younger than both Shaq and all of the Big 3. O’Neal has been written off by many adherent NBA followers, and his productivity has been in a continual state of decline since 2007. However, it would be unfair to not acknowledge his value because of his statline. Since 2007 O’Neal has made the shift from 1st option, to 2nd, and even 3rd. With the Celtics he will most likely fall somewhere outside of the top 5. As long as both Shaq and Jermaine can make the adjustment to being further down in the pecking order, I see no reason as to why bringing the O’Neal’s in wouldn’t work. The Celtics are irrefutable evidence that sacrifice amongst a group of talented veterans can go a long way towards collective successes. Jermaine’s career is far from over yet. He has been embattled with injuries in recent years, but that seems to be a regularity amongst men his size.
When they are on the court, the Celtics bigs have been able to produce. Consistently appearing on the court, of course, seems to be the problem. This, however, is not an isolated incident. This happens with big’s everywhere in the NBA. They are tall men carrying frames that their bodies struggle to maintain. Not to mention they play 82 games in a 140 day span, and are constantly training around the clock for the full 365. But Danny Ainge appears to be ready to battle the forces of nature. He has stacked the Celtics frontcourt with 5 bigs in KG, Perk, Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, and Big Baby. You won’t find as many able bodies up front anywhere else around the league. Sure, missing Perkins until midway through the season will be a strain but this is why the O’Neal’s are more of a necessity than ever. This is especially true considering how cheap they both were relative to their overall value. Ainge highlighted a problem and did his best to rectify it with the resources he had. So for those who don’t like these moves, I simply cannot understand your mindset. The day I get upset with my team for making moves, to fill glaring needs, with proven veteran players, is the day I should stop rooting for that team altogether. Now let’s get the ball rolling on this Pau Gasol problem.
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.