Kobe Bryant sees a return to Pau Gasol as a return to winning

Lakers power forward Pau Gasol is double-teamed by the Spurs' Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph during a playoff game in April. Gasol missed 33 games last season with knee and foot problems.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

In trying to develop “franchise” centers like Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant believes the Lakers lost track of what took the team to two consecutive titles.

“We had a stretch where we won championships with Pau anchoring the offense for us,” said Bryant. “[With Bynum and Howard], everybody forgot how we won in the first place.”

The Lakers guard spent an hour on Thursday night at Nokia Theatre at a special event titled “Kobe Up Close Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel,” produced by Sports Spectacular and the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Foundation with the proceeds to help fight homelessness and also to support “Coach for Kids and Their Families”, a program of the Cedars-Sinai Maxine Dunitz Childrens’ Health Center that provides no-cost health care to underserved communities.


“Pau’s in a tough spot because everybody wants to see more from him, but he’s not getting the same opportunities as before. You can’t have it both ways,” said Bryant.

Bynum averaged a career-high 18.7 points a game in his final year with the Lakers. The next off-season, the team dealt him to the Philadelphia 76ers for Howard. Knee injuries prevented Bynum from playing a single game with the Sixers.

In his single season with the Lakers, Howard averaged 17.1 points a game.

Now that Howard has signed with the Houston Rockets and Bynum with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Lakers can return to the Gasol/Bryant duo that helped the franchise win titles.

Of course, both are older now and recovering from injuries.

Bryant hopes to be back by opening night (Oct. 29) but isn’t quite sure what will happen after tearing his left Achilles’ tendon in April. Gasol had procedures done on his knees to help fight tendonosis.

Last season Gasol averaged a career-low 13.7 points a game. The Lakers won titles in 2009 and 2010 with the veteran forward/center as the team’s primary big man.



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