After the Los Angeles Lakers lost in frustrating fashion to the Philadelphia 76ers, Pau Gasol came under intense scrutiny for not suiting up and playing through illness.
One day later, Gasol went through Lakers practice and did some extra work to build back conditioning. As he walked off the floor, Gasol coughed up some phlegm. Then, he walked over and talked to the assembled LA media. He looked and sounded ill.
'“I won’t be for weeks,” Gasol explained when told he still didn’t sound well. “Yea, I’m going to play tomorrow.”
Gasol was asked how he was affected by the illness.
“Just coughing, not being able to breath, just really stuffed up, all my cavities are infected, so it is what it is. You got to play through it. I needed those days to get the worst part out of the way. It’s going to be a work in progress.”
Gasol explained that he had a “bad case of sinusitis” and “bronchitis too." At that point, everyone in the media should have probably taken a step back, but that’s not how Lakers practice works. The questions only intensified.
“I just get very exhausted and winded when I get my cardio up,” Gasol explained how the illness has hurt him playing basketball.
Gasol was informed that he had been criticized for missing games, and in particular, he was publicly questioned for coming in and lifting weights on Sunday morning but not turning up at the game that night.
“I was limited to doing anaerobic work, so basically without getting my cardio up,” the sickly 7-foot Spaniard explained. “I was able to do what the doctor told me to do. I could lift some light weights to keep my muscles loose and (somewhat) tone. But from there to get up and down and play a basketball game is a different story.”
Gasol took exception to being criticized for getting sick, and considering how he sounded and looked while responding, he made a convincing argument.
“I try to play through as much as I can. I played through when I first got the respiratory issues earlier in the season. I was getting killed by not performing and all that stuff. So, when you try to play through stuff, you still don’t get any credit. When you don’t play through stuff, you still don’t get any credit. So, you don’t get credit much—when things especially are not working out and the team is losing.”
Gasol went on to explain that this illness was a continuation of his early season upper-respiratory issue.
Gasol said he was hit hard with the illness after the game against Minnesota. He said he was unable to move the next day in San Francisco, so he missed the game against the Warriors. However, he tried to fight through and play against Phoenix. He said it got worse, and after the Miami game, he decided to go to the doctor and get checked up.
“Exhausted, I didn’t really do a whole lot.” Gasol responded when asked how he felt at the end of the game against Miami. “I tried my best, competed hard. I wasn’t much of a factor I guess, offensively and defensively.”
When he went to the doctor the next day, his instructions were clear.
“The doctor said ‘you shouldn’t be playing if you want to get over this. It’s going to get worse,’” Gasol said on Monday. “So I listened to him.”
During Sunday’s loss, I joked that the fans in attendance wanted to boo the Lakers, but Gasol was not around, so Lakers fans were confused and sitting silently. Well, somehow, Gasol still got booed and blamed.
Perhaps Gasol said it best on Monday: “Oh there was criticism? Oh, nice.”