For Pau Gasol, there was some measure of satisfaction in 2010 when his Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. There was a lot more to it than it just being the heated Celtics vs. Lakers rivalry. Two years earlier, the Celtics knocked off Gasol and the Lakers in six games to win the championship.
Gasol, who played his last NBA game in the 2018-19 season as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, recently talked about that 2010 championship season with the Lakers. He said the Lakers “got rewarded” in the winner-take-all meeting against the Celtics.
Pau Gasol spent seven seasons with the Lakers
After spending the first seven years of his NBA life with the Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol found a new home. The Grizzlies traded their All-Star to the Lakers for four players and a pair of first-round draft picks. In his first year with the Lakers, he made quite an impact.
He played 27 games after getting traded in February and averaged 18.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. In his LA debut, he had 24 points and 12 rebounds in a victory. In his first playoff game with the Lakers, he poured in 36 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Gasol teamed with Kobe Bryant to help lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals in Gasol’s first season with the team. The Celtics, however, won the series 4-2.
In his first full year in LA, Gasol and the Lakers made a return trip to the championship round. In the 2009-09 season, Gasol started all 81 games he played and averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. He made his second career All-Star Game appearance. It was also the first of three straight trips to All-Star Weekend for him as a Laker.
The Lakers met up with the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals and made quick work of the Magic, winning in five games. In 2010, the Lakers reached the Finals for the third straight year, making it 3-for-3 in appearances with Gasol in purple and gold.
Pau Gasol recently said the Lakers ‘got rewarded’ in their Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics in 2010
The Lakers did have revenge on their minds during their rematch with the Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. The Celtics vs. Lakers rivalry had been renewed in 2008 after the teams regularly reached the NFL Finals in the 1980s.
After the Celtics won in ’08, the Lakers were hungry in their rematch two seasons later. The Celtics were dealt a tough blow when center Kendrick Perkins injured his knee during Game 6 and was ruled out for the series finale.
He finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds as the Lakers clinched the series 83-79, repeating as champions. Gasol was a recent guest on JJ Redick’s The Old Man & the Three podcast and talked about how ugly the Lakers played in that Game 7. As a team, they shot 32.5% from the floor, making just 27 of 83 field-goal attempts.
Gasol implied it came down to which team wanted it more.
“We were not making shots,” he recalled. “Kobe and I were off from the field, but we just kept fighting. We gave ourselves a chance, and we put ourselves in a position to win.
“The defense, the grind, fighting for loose balls, the 50-50 balls, all those things were there in the Game 7. That’s what you can control — that effort, that fight. We got rewarded big time.”
Gasol had some extra motivation because he didn’t want the Celtics beating him again
During Game 7, it was almost as if neither team wanted to win. Although the Lakers shot woefully from the floor, the Celtics weren’t much better. Boston made 40% of its shots, but Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were a combined 8-for-29.
Things were so ugly that the Celtics had 40 points at halftime, yet they led by six points.
As bad as Gasol and the Lakers shot, the Celtics let them hang around. Gasol was motivated enough to play in a Game 7, but the fact it was the Celtics made him even hungrier.
“For me, besides the tradition and the history of the rivalry, it was more having lost against them in ’08 and not allowing them to beat us again,” Gasol said. “To me, that was it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen on our home court. That’s why we fought so hard.”
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.