Pau Gasol was always questioned about his toughness. Especially in last year’s NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. He was also questioned about his toughness against point guards! Have you ever seen him dunked by Baron Davis?
He struggled badly last year against Kevin Garnett in the NBA Finals. That series was a lop-sided match-up with “The Big Ticket” winning. But Pau Gasol has been struggling a bit this year in the Finals as well when he faces Dwight “Superman” Howard.
Gasol only averaged close to 15 points per game last year in the Finals. He was criticized badly not only for being overpowered by Kevin Garnett but also Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe.
Gasol was so soft that when you Google up “Pau Gasol toughness” as John Hollinger of ESPN would say, there won’t be many results. I tried myself and if you look at it, there isn’t many results actually. Don’t believe me? Try it!
Gasol is soft. We all know it. He is not tough as all those players like Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Ben Wallace, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O’Neal, Tyson Chandler, D.J. White, and all of those guys.
But in Game Four of the NBA Finals, he may have finally arrived in the Association as a “tough” player. Sure, the stats weren’t what you would call amazing (16 points and ten rebounds) but come on, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher were the stars of that game.
But in every “key juncture” (as John Hollinger would phrase it), Gasol did what he needed to do! He rattled the rim with his dunks, he knocked down his shots, and made key blocks during that game. He was the big man that dominated the court not Howard!
You don’t have to take my word on the fact that Gasol’s rep improved big-time after Thursday night’s game. Here is what John Hollinger thoughts are on the subject “Gasol overcame two early fouls to do yeoman’s work defending Orlando’s Dwight Howard, the type of physical beast who was supposed to overpower Mr. Softie. Using his quickness to front the post, Gasol has denied catches throughout the series. Using his footwork after the catch, he has repeatedly put himself in Howard’s way. Yes, he had some double-team help; everybody does. But Gasol was a major factor in Howard’s committing seven turnovers. Even the three-second violations were partly his doing, as he aggressively denied the initial entry pass.”
See what I mean?
According to “Sports Illustrated” Gasol hit the weights this year to gain his toughness and not being the Mr. Softman he was in the 2007-2008 season. This year, Gasol has got it on and has probably been bench-pressing and other exercises with weights to get stronger (I’m doing the same kind of stuff myself!)
“I just feel stronger,” he told John Hollinger at ESPN. “I feel like the work that I put in this year has paid off and is paying off. I’m able to hold my ground a lot better, and overall I think I’m doing pretty well.”
So with that said, will Pau Gasol get tougher or softer? We don’t know but so far in the Finals he is getting better and he looks to improve further.
Now don’t go soft on me!