Russell had been playing with the injury, the Lakers said, but couldn’t continue to do so Friday. He will be evaluated again to determine his status for Sunday’s home game against the
Jose Calderon started in Russell’s place. Although Calderon does not typically play with the second unit, Lakers Coach Luke Walton has hesitated to break up the chemistry with that group when a starter goes down. The Lakers’ second unit is the
When the Lakers were without center
Walton said he didn’t know the extent of Russell’s injury but hoped it wasn’t long-term. Calderon joined shooting guard
Their relationship began nearly 20 years ago when both were teenagers playing basketball for Spain.
When Lakers point guard Jose Calderon and Spurs center
Now they are two of 10 Spanish players in the NBA.
"For us it was great to play for the national team and represent our country and, by doing that, being an example for all those young guys that are starting now," Calderon said. "We all came from different families, little towns. Anybody can do it. It's just about putting in the work. We were lucky to be together."
The Spanish Olympic team, which won the bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro this summer, had seven active NBA players and three former NBA players on its roster. Many of the older players like Gasol, Calderon, Juan Carlos Navarro and Felipe Reyes have been together for nearly two decades, meeting each summer during their off-seasons to grow together.
They spent so much time together that Calderon can't recall exactly how Gasol has changed over the years. But he remembers a long, skinny guy who had the potential to be great one day.
"I think we did a lot for basketball [in Spain]," Calderon said. "Everybody's crazy about the national team all these years. It was great. Now even there's 10 guys in the NBA from Spain this year. That's a lot of people for a not-that-big country. Basketball is big now."