Conference Call with Pau Gasol- Sept. 27, 2007
Q: Spain won the World Championship Final in Japan without you and lost the European Championship with you, how does that make you feel?
A: They were both … obviously, winning the gold in Japan was a wonderful feeling and losing the final by one point at home was not that wonderful. But it was a good championship, we played well, we worked hard. It was just we played our worst game in the final. It was a little bit frustrating but I don’t try to compare one tournament with another, one year with another. There are all different circumstances and it all changes. We’re happy we have a gold medal and a silver medal and two really tough championships. That just shows how good of a team we are.
Q: What was the biggest surprise, to win the gold medal in Japan or to lose the gold medal at home?
A: I guess to win the gold in Japan. It was a little bit unexpected by everybody. Just like Russia was a little unexpected champion in the European Championship. We’ve proven that we’re a consistent team in that we got to the last two finals, and we want to be a part of the Olympics next year. We’re happy with what were doing and we’re proud of what we’re doing. Hopefully we’re going to continue to have success in our next championships.
Q: Can you tell me your feelings about doing the pre-camp in Malaga, in your home country? Also, how are you doing with Navarro with you in Memphis?
A: As far as having part of our training camp in Spain, Malaga and Madrid, it should be exciting. I had a chance to do it a few years ago, to play a game in Paris and to play a game in Barcelona. They were both really exciting with people who love to watch us play and have a lot of fun. It’s great to be given the chance to play in Europe, and specifically Spain and my home country, to share our NBA team life with another country. I’m exited about it. I hope it doesn’t get too crazy. I hope people have fun and enjoy the game. And at the same time we would like to get ready for the season.
As for Navarro, he’s doing well. We spend most of our waking hours together. Everything else is good.
Q: You and Dirk Nowitzki are the best basketball players from Europe. Which areas do you need to improve to become and MVP player like Nowitzki?
A: I guess different areas you can always improve. To become an MVP you have to be one of the top five teams in the league to have that kind of respect and recognition from the media and press and the league. There are always things you can improve. I am continuing to work on every aspect of the game. I’m working on becoming a bigger presence on defense, to block more shots and be more consistent with my rebounding, give more consistency to my team. My offensive game is pretty clean. I’m trying to feel more comfortable to shoot a little more from outside and be more versatile; keep working on my low post game.
Q: You played a fantastic European Championship in Spain. How disappointed are you in yourself after the finals against Russia because of the free throws?
A: It was, again, kind of strange. We were a little bit tired that game; we didn’t play our best game. We played really well the whole tournament but then we kind of slowed sown with Russia. As far as free throws go, it was a little bit of concentration. I shot really well during the championship. If we had a better percentage maybe we could have had the outcome we wanted. I think we could have done better that game. It’s frustrating but you have to be proud of what we did, we played our best.
Q: How have you been helping Juan Carlos adjust to Memphis?
A: Juan Carlos has been discovering a lot of things in a new city and new country. I’m trying to help him as much as I can to feel as comfortable as possible. You know, looking for a new house, schools for the kids, going to restaurants and the rest of the city … also getting him comfortable with his teammates and everything. It’s a lot of new stuff but he’s happy that everything is going well, but right now there are a lot of things to take care of. Overall, he’s happy. I’m happy we’re together and we’re excited about this season and we have a pretty good team. We’ll see what happens.
Q: How important is this going to be for the team to come here to do the pre-camp to build team chemistry?
A: I think the trip to Spain is going to help our chemistry a lot. It’s going to bring us together because most of the guys are going to be away from homes and country and we are going to have only one another. We are going to have a chance to go to dinner together and do a lot of things together. Juan Carlos and I are going to try to make them feel as comfortable as possible. I’m pretty sure the people in Spain are going to be happy to have us there. It’s definitely going to help our chemistry a lot during the year.
A: Do you feel more comfortable with Juan Carlos on the team? Do you think you’ll be a better player with Juan Carlos at your side?
A: As far as Juan Carlos, I think he is going to make our team better. It’s going to be a little different, strange, at first to play here with him. It’s definitely going to improve a lot of things. My teammates will get a chance to watch him do what he does on the floor. He’s definitely going to help the team and I’m really happy that he’s here with us.
A: Last season there were rumors about a trade for you. Was it disappointing?
A: Well, last year was really, really hard in many ways -- from my injury to the situation, the losses, the criticism; a lot of negative things. A lot of things happened that did not help me or the team. This year we’re looking forward to a totally different year. I’m excited and motivated. I don’t like to think about the past. I like to move forward. Last year was hard to be in the situation we were. We’re trying to be optimistic and positive and I believe this team can be a really good team.
Q: Except the last few seasons the Grizzlies, played very good regular seasons, but the in postseason there were some tweaks. What can we expect from Memphis this season?
A: We are going to find that out very soon – we have a new coaching staff. We have young team and a young team that wants to do good. A lot of players have worked a lot during the summer to get better. You know, it is a really good team. I don’t know how far we can go, hopefully we are going to get to the playoffs, but it is hard to get in the West. We’ll see. We will see what happens. Hopefully at the end of the year are going to be excited and proud of ourselves. Hopefully we are going to do a good job in the postseason in 2008. That will be perfect.
Q: Are you in contact with Darko Milicic?
A: Yeah we are, just like any other teammate.
Q: Regarding the Beijing Olympics, which team is favored for the gold medal and do you think the Team USA can make the comeback after so many disappointing performances during the past five years?
A: I think they have very good chance to be definitely the favorite team, and they played very impressively. They look very good. They always are one of the favorites even though in the last championship they did not perform or get the results that they were expecting. But, you know, we will see. Argentina is always good, but they are getting older, but we will see. Russia has improved. It is always a great team and dangerous. We have a good team, a real good team. Next year, we are going to come really strong and we will have to do really great job in the Olympics getting a gold Olympic medal. So, we will see what happens.
Q: What part of your game did you work on this summer?
A: Mostly, outside shooting. I worked on that so I feel more comfortable -- get a little more range so I can be more of a threat from 15 to 17 feet. I’d like to include that so defenders are often aware, which will give you more chance to penetrate and create more fouls. That would be important especially with the kind of games we are going to have this year -- more up-tempo, more up-and-down, fast-breaks. So it’s going to be good for me to feel a bit more comfortable to knock down shots from the outside and be a more complete player.
Q: What do you think the training camp in Malaga will bring to the team?
A: Like I said, it is going to bring us together. There are lot of new teammates and coaching staff. It’s going to bring us together. It’s going to help our chemistry. We are going to spend More time together than if we were here in the US, where each and everyone has their own family and their own thing going on here. In Spain, we eat together, practice and enjoy a really good atmosphere.
Q: Can you describe the relationship between you and Juan Carlos? Are you like a brother or mentor or a friend?
A: We’ve been best friends for years. We played together when I first came to Barcelona when I was 16 years old. And, we are very good friends. We grew up together. We have a great relationship beyond basketball and that’s also the stuff we want to translate and bring to the team, the feeling of unity.
Q: What do you do together?
A: We go to eat, spend lot of time together, and he’s got couple of kids. And, we are like family. We have a very good relationship of many years.