On a sellout night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers collected their 55th loss of the season, which was a record for the team since moving to LA. The Lakers lost their final home game of the season on Sunday night, but that was hardly a surprise or the story of the night.
Without their best players available to play, the Lakers had not fared well of late. Sunday night was the Lakers’ seventh loss in a row. Facing a Memphis Grizzlies team on the outskirts of the playoff picture, one would find it hard to pick the nine-man Lakers without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Chris Kaman, Kent Bazemore, Xavier Henry and Pau Gasol to win.
Of the five names mentioned, only Gasol appeared in public on Sunday evening. Sure, some may say Gasol was there to watch his brother, Marc Gasol, play for the Grizzlies, but the best Spanish speaker on the Lakers has consistently appeared on the sidelines to support his team since suffering vertigo.
Earlier in the day, the Lakers announced that Gasol would not play in the final two games of the season, but the committed teammate would still travel with the team on its final road trip of the season. One criticism of Bryant this season has been his perceived detachment from the Lakers, and the Lakers superstar has rarely appeared on the sidelines since fracturing his knee in December.
Gasol, however, has been a compassionate teammate and has taken ownership over the worst season in LA Lakers history. Although fans may not be unified in bringing him back to the team next season, they appreciate Gasol’s role in Laker Land since his arrival on Feb. 1, 2008.
At one point late in the game, a well-dressed Gasol popped up on the big screen. The fans that were still in attendance, and there were plenty of them, showered the Spaniard with warm applause.
Sunday night may well be the last time Gasol appears at Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, as the Barcelona-native is an unrestricted free agent in the summer. The fact that he may not be a welcome face at Staples Center was apparently not lost on Gasol, as the Spaniard spent extended time on the court signing autographs and posing for pictures after the game.
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Sure, the Lakers lost 102-90 in their final home game of the worst season in LA Lakers history, but if Gasol leaves, Sunday Apr. 13 will always be remembered as the last night Gasol was a Laker at Staples Center.
Fitting, Gasol was a perfect example of class even after the buzzer sounded.