Kobe Bryant appreciated to inform folks he did not have time for associates. Not within the standard method most individuals have associates through which they speak commonly or seize a meal once they’re in the identical a part of city.
Ever on model, Bryant even trademarked the slogan, “Pals grasp typically, Banners grasp perpetually.”
Pau Gasol heard him say that on a regular basis.
“Yeah, he’d at all times say, ‘I haven’t got time for associates. I am too busy attaining, being the perfect on the market or attaining greatness. I haven’t got time for the sentimental stuff,'” Gasol mentioned. “He would say that publicly, and there was some reality to that. However … “
Gasol knew the reality.
Beneath all that robust speak was a delicate father to 4 daughters who would at all times be there when Gasol referred to as.
“He is the closest factor to a giant brother that I’ve had in my life,” Gasol mentioned.
They did not take selfies collectively once they’d meet up for dinner within the later years of their profession, or after Bryant retired from the NBA in 2016. The one hint of simply how shut Bryant and Gasol’s relationship had grown got here largely within the type of #hermano — Spanish for brother — hashtags on Twitter or Instagram.
Gasol did not want the shoutout. He already knew how shut he and Bryant’s friendship was. However he’s proud he bought Bryant to open up and present the world that aspect of him.
“You could possibly see his toughness, his grit, his need, his starvation, the Mamba mentality. … However he had a really sort, very loving aspect, too.”
Pau Gasol on Kobe Bryant
“You could possibly see his toughness, his grit, his need, his starvation, the Mamba mentality — be the perfect always, work tougher than anybody else,” Gasol mentioned. “However he had a really sort, very loving aspect, too.”
Within the latter levels of his profession Bryant began dropping the veil ever so barely and letting the world see what Gasol did.
“I am extra naturally inclined to indicate my softness from a private stage and an emotional stage and I feel that is one thing possibly I influenced him to in a method, “Gasol mentioned. “I would say, ‘It is okay to be regular or act sort and susceptible or tender at instances. We do not have to be so laborious on a regular basis and be on edge on a regular basis.'”
Matt Barnes did not realize it was Gasol who’d gotten Bryant to open up, however he positive as hell observed when it began occurring.
“I keep in mind one time, we have been on a bus in Phoenix and I requested Kobe, ‘Why would not the remainder of the world get to see how cool you’re, motherf—er?” mentioned Barnes, who performed with Bryant and Gasol from 2010 to ’12. “I actually requested him that query in entrance of all people. And Kobe was like, ‘I can not present these motherf—ers that.’
“I feel that was part of that complete Mamba mentality. However whenever you bought him to place his guard down, or when you have been in a position to penetrate the wall, , Kobe was cool as s—. However he needed to allow you to see that aspect.”
It’s nonetheless laborious for Gasol to speak about Bryant’s dying. Point out Jan. 26 and Gasol’s thoughts races again to the second he first heard concerning the helicopter crash that killed the previous Los Angeles Lakers nice, his daughter Gianna and 7 others.
He was in Spain on the time, along with his now-wife, Cat, driving residence when her cellphone began getting information alerts and textual content messages.
“You begin getting on this trance the place you are fully frozen,” he mentioned. “You are simply caught in full shock. You may’t imagine it. I nonetheless for days, weeks, I nonetheless did not wish to imagine it.
“You continue to thought that Kobe may have gotten out of that accident by his personal ft and carried his daughter — and if there have been some other survivors — with him to the hospital.
“We had that notion of him as that sturdy, as that invincible. If somebody may have survived it, it was him.”
Gasol mentioned he cried for days, numb and heartbroken and shocked all of sudden. However in a short time he knew what he wanted to do.
“We simply booked a flight [to California],” he mentioned. “We determined we would have liked to be there and we left. We did not know if we have been leaving for per week, two weeks or a month, however we would have liked to be there.
“We wished to be near Vanessa and the children and be there, as Uncle Pau, for no matter they wanted.”
Pau Gasol on the times after the helicopter crash
“We wished to be near Vanessa and the children and be there, as Uncle Pau, for no matter they wanted.”
The Gasols stayed close to the Bryants’ residence in Orange County for a number of months, checking in on the household typically and making an attempt to assist them by way of the unthinkable tragedy.
Uncle Pau despatched flowers to Vanessa on what would’ve been the couple’s 19th marriage ceremony anniversary in April and a birthday cake on what would’ve been Gianna’s 14th birthday in Might.
The Gasols and Bryants went on a ship journey by way of San Francisco Bay in August and bought dressed up as Star Wars characters for Halloween. And when the Gasols’ first little one was born in September, they named her after Gianna.
“My daughter’s full identify is Elisabet Gianna Gasol,” he mentioned. “It is a method, not simply to honor Gianna, however to at all times have them current. They’re our household and through which method can you’ve them extra current, than to have it in your daughter’s identify or your son’s?
“We had extra points developing together with her first identify than together with her center identify. It represents a lot, the identify. The kindness, the center that Gianna had, the expertise, simply with the toughness that she confirmed. Her dad and her mother in her, it is one thing that has plenty of that means to us, and that is why she’s named Elisabet Gianna.”
Gasol had gone to Gianna Bryant’s basketball video games through the years and watched as her expertise blossomed.
“She may have modified ladies’s basketball,” Gasol mentioned. “Hopefully that can nonetheless occur, however she was that significant, that essential to the sport in what she may have meant. So I feel it is on us to have her current and to not let her passing take away from how a lot she may have impacted.”
That is what Gasol finds consolation in now, almost a yr after Kobe and Gianna’s dying.
There’s nonetheless unhappiness and shock. He says he won’t ever journey in a helicopter.
“Each time I see one, it simply triggers me,” he mentioned.
However Gasol mentioned he is aware of he’s doing precisely what his older brother would’ve wished him to do: searching for Vanessa and her three daughters, and serving to others study from the legacy Kobe and Gigi left behind.
“He cared deeply about sharing his information, inspiring others, touching folks’s lives,” Gasol mentioned.
Bryant’s wanting to hook up with others reminded Gasol of the way in which he’d first related with him. They’d identified one another as rivals early of their careers, as Bryant was successful championships with Shaquille O’Neal in L.A. and Gasol was making an attempt to get the Memphis Grizzlies over the hump.
Then an opportunity encounter modified the course of each of their lives. In the summertime of 2007, the Bryants occurred to stumble upon Gasol whereas vacationing in his native Barcelona, as he was figuring out of their lodge gymnasium.
“It is loopy how that occurred,” Gasol mentioned. “There have been talks about him leaving the Lakers and probably getting traded to Chicago. There have been talks about me, too, as a result of I wished to be in a unique scenario than Memphis on the time, and the path that the franchise was taking.
“So I mentioned, ‘Properly, possibly someday we’ll play collectively. You by no means know.’ In my thoughts, I could not register the Grizzlies buying and selling me to the Lakers. However then, just a few months later, after I thought it simply would not occur, it did. And I ended up with him and the Lakers in an ideal time the place issues simply clicked and got here collectively instantly, and we had unimaginable instances.”
Nevertheless, there was no celebration after the gorgeous midseason commerce, which might lead to three straight NBA Finals appearances and two titles for the Lakers.
No, Bryant knocked on Gasol’s lodge room door at 1:30 within the morning and advised him the way it was going to be.
“I landed in Washington that first night time to hitch the crew, and after my bodily he got here to my room to inform me, ‘Hey, I am very excited to have you ever. Very blissful that you simply’re right here, however now let’s go win a championship,'” Gasol mentioned.
“I imply, it simply would not get extra clear than that. He made positive I knew instantly the place he stood. There isn’t any confusion: ‘That is what I would like. That is the place I am at, and that is the place I’ll want you to be. Now, are you going to be on it? Are you going to be on board or are you not?'”
Gasol was prepared.
“I wished the possibility badly,” he mentioned. “That was my probability, and I used to be not going to waste it.”
Throughout their first recreation collectively, Bryant was much more to the purpose. He fed Gasol early to get him going and sometimes spoke to him in Spanish on the courtroom — so their opponents could not perceive them — and he typically saved up that demanding nature each minute of each recreation within the six-plus seasons they performed collectively.
“He could possibly be laborious. There isn’t any query about it,” Gasol mentioned.
That is good method of placing it.
“There can be instances the place I would should, like, go put my arm round Pau and inform him it may be all proper,” Barnes mentioned. “As a result of [Bryant] would cuss that motherf—er out in any language you possibly can think about.”
That is how Gasol will keep in mind Bryant as a participant. The grit, the dedication, the direct pictures by way of the media (do not forget that complete Black Swan-White Swan narrative Bryant spun to encourage Gasol to be extra aggressive and bodily?).
However it’s not how he’ll keep in mind his older brother.
“Our relationship appeared to be meant to return collectively for some cause,” Gasol mentioned. “And now after his loss and Gigi’s, it simply introduced us that a lot nearer to what he meant to me, who he was, what he supplied to my life and clearly his household and now my household, as I think about them.
“He was somebody that I am going to miss for the remainder of my life, however I am going to have him current in all the pieces that I do.”