Gasol’s fresh start is pretty fab

Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Pau Gasol Show, take one.

Wherever the newest Laker went Tuesday at the Izod Center, reporters, cameras, microphones, light stands and such were sure to follow.

A bilingual media circus was present and accounted for, along with a notable buzz in the air, long before tipoff between the Lakers and New Jersey Nets.

Forward Ronny Turiaf was swept up early in the crush, getting bumped by cameramen, twice, as he left the locker room for pregame warmups a few steps behind Gasol.


“I guess I was in the way,” he said sheepishly.

The Lakers were very much uncluttered on the court, pulling away for a 105-90 victory as Gasol scored 24 points and took 12 rebounds.

It only added to the giddy atmosphere that had taken hold of them since they acquired Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Or, as Lamar Odom was said to have exclaimed that day, “The Beatles are back, baby!”

The rock ‘n’ roll environment was in full effect Tuesday as fans ringed the Lakers’ side of the court during warmups. Then Gasol spoke to reporters for about five minutes.

He fielded seven questions in English, four in Spanish, two more in English, and another three in Spanish. And that was before the game.

“I’m starting to realize how big the Lakers are around the country and around the world,” he said. “I had a little bit of a feel when they’d come to Memphis and I’d see more Lakers jerseys than Grizzlies jerseys in the stands, but that just happens everywhere.”

He was enthralled enough, or perhaps unknowing enough, to sit in Coach Phil Jackson’s seat during a timeout. Jackson didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he has already started teasing Gasol.

“I asked him to shave his beard,” Jackson said. “I told him I’d shave mine if he’d shave his. He wasn’t buying it.”

It took several days, but Kwame Brown finally granted an interview after being traded by the Lakers last Friday.

He expressed an eagerness to be with the Grizzlies and suggested the Lakers’ offense might not have been the best for his game.

“It was a lot of back-to-the-basket stuff,” he told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “What I see here is more of a flow game that will allow me to use my quickness in the open court. I’ve got to get my offensive rhythm down.

“I played mostly defense in L.A. I’m going to do that also, but hopefully I can get more involved offensively.”

Brown, the top pick in the 2001 draft, also talked about the unfulfilled promise attached to him throughout his career.

“People have their opinions,” he said. “I can’t live up to what everybody believes. All I can live up to is God and myself. If we had to do that draft all over, who knows what would have happened? Probably the same thing would have happened. Everybody’s a genius after the fact.”

Bryant, on the reported trade between the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns that would send Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix: “I know he likes warm weather. Other than that, I don’t think too much about it.”


at Atlanta, 4 PST, (5:30, Ch. 9)

Site -- Philips Arena.

Radio -- 570; 1330.

Records -- Lakers 31-16; Hawks 20-24.

Record vs. Hawks (2006-07) -- 2-0.

Update -- Hawks guard Joe Johnson, who is averaging 20.9 points and 5.2 assists, was selected as an All-Star reserve for a second consecutive season.