Lakers fans will not be surprised by this news: Bulls forward Pau Gasol is the winner of the 2014-15 Magic Johnson Award, which is given annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Assn. to the player who excels on the court and in showing dignity in dealing with the media and public.
Gasol, who showed great patience and poise during some tumultuous times with the Lakers, was gracious as always upon hearing the news.
“It's easy to be friendly. It's easy to be kind,” Gasol told reporters on Wednesday. “It rubs off on people, so you want to balance out the negatives in the world with some positives. So that's what I try to do.
“I just try to be helpful. I try to help other people do their jobs well,” Gasol said. “I understand my position and that this is a part of our jobs. So I always try to be kind and polite, even when I'm not feeling great or I might be upset because of the loss. I understand that it's still part of my job to be one of the team's leaders and role models to stand up and share my thoughts when I need.”
Gasol has helped the Bulls reach the playoffs despite injuries to key players this season, including All-Star point guard Derrick Rose. Chicago has a 2-0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks, who host Game 3 on Thursday night.
Gasol, who averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists this season, admitted the award is special because it's named after basketball legend Magic Johnson.
With regard to criticism, Gasol said, “I try to understand that it's nothing personal. People are just trying to do their jobs. I don't like people getting me to react in a negative way. So when there's criticism, when things are not going well, you understand it, you accept it, and then you spend some time with yourself and you release and understand why things happened and you move on.
“We're all human, we're not all the same,” Gasol said, adding of the media, “but you have to understand that people are just trying to do their jobs and you guys are a big part of our success and that's why all the news gets to people and people follow us and the sport is as big as it is. So the more coverage, the more attention, the better it is for the sport. But some guys don't see that perspective because the feelings and emotions get in the way and that's human as well. I just try to do my best as always.”