Thursday, January 23, 2003

Pau Gasol of Memphis in the NBA gets a lot of attention over here, since he's a native of Barcelona. He gets outrageous praise in the local media since he's a hometown favorite. I googled around through the sports sites to see what real NBA writers had to say about Gasol, to see whether the press he gets here is overhyped. It isn't. Gasol is really considered to be one of the best young players in the NBA and a future All-Star, maybe as early as next year. He struggled for a while early this season, but so did everyone else on the team, and that was largely due to coaching confusion--Memphis fired its coach early in the season after going 0-8 and brought in old-school Hubie Brown, who is like 96 years old but who has stabilized the team. Hubie hadn't coached since 1986. Gasol has played quite well so far in January. He had four straight 20-point 10-rebound games. As a check, I googled "pau gasol sucks". No hits. Therefore, none of the many sports blogs, which are often highly critical and foul-mouthed and also often are dead-on in their puncturing of overblown jock egos, have it in for big Pau. That's unusual. To confirm, I googled "pau gasol blows". No hits. He really must be pretty good. The criticism I saw of him is that he needs to bulk up--he's still only 23, seven feet and 240 pounds--and that he has to play more consistently and, particularly, play tougher on defense. Hubie Brown ought to be able to convince him to do that, and those criticisms are rather mild compared to the praise Gasol gets--he can score 20 a game, he's got a nice touch, he's extremely well-coordinated for someone so tall, he's fast, he's a good rebounder and passer, he's a good outside shooter, he's a crowd-pleaser (loves to slam-dunk), and, according to this gay sports site I came across, good-looking. They ranked him as the fourth-hottest NBA foreign player. Not bad.

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