Sport Pau Gasol on how Kobe Bryant and Spanish team inspired quest to end career with gold medal

22:37  24 july  2021
22:37  24 july  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

When do the Olympics start? Opening ceremony date, time, schedule for 2021 Tokyo Games

  When do the Olympics start? Opening ceremony date, time, schedule for 2021 Tokyo Games The 2021 Olympic opening ceremony will be a fun but poignant moment as the athletes of the world finally get to gather together in Tokyo and compete.After such a long wait, athletes and fans alike are excited about the event. There will be some soccer and softball action going on before the Olympics begin, but the opening ceremony will mark the official start of the 2021 Summer Games.

As he weathered frustration with his injured left foot, a lengthy rehab and uncertainty with his basketball future, Pau Gasol often turned toward a significant Los Angeles Lakers teammate for help.

In the past 18 months since Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, Gasol no longer could lean on a trusted teammate and friend as he did when they won two NBA championships with the Lakers (2009, 2010). Still, Gasol could still rely on his own memories with how Bryant overcame injuries.

“I kept him in mind a lot of the days to say hey, ‘Kobe would be pushing himself,’” Gasol told USA TODAY Sports. “Kobe would not be taking this workout easy or not skipping anything. He would be really disciplined, trusting and being committed to the work. He’s always a big presence with me. He’s always going to be an inspiration and motivation in my life.”

Kris Bryant's Cubs career tells the story of how MLB put the squeeze on its stars

  Kris Bryant's Cubs career tells the story of how MLB put the squeeze on its stars When the last out of the 2016 World Series arrived — the final hurdle in the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year quest for a championship — it seemed appropriate the ball found Kris Bryant. At the time, he was the avatar of the new Cubs. In 2016, he got even better, won NL MVP and lived out a sports savior story in delivering a title to the North Side of Chicago and Cubs fans around the world. On Friday, Bryant begins what is likely his last homestand as a member of the Cubs. Set for free agency after the season, and attracting the attention of contenders as the Cubs steer toward a sell-off, Bryant is likely to be dealt by MLB’s July 30 trade deadline.

From NFL plays to college sports scores, all the top sports news you need to know every day.

No wonder Gasol partly credited Bryant’s influence with completing "Untitled Pau Gasol docuseries," a four-episode documentary. In 2015, Bryant oversaw “Muse,” a Showtime documentary that captured his successes and failures during his NBA career. Gasol’s project, which is directed by Oriol Bosch and slated for a release sometime this year on Amazon Prime Video, mirrored a similar path.

The documentary detailed Gasol’s journey with appearing in his final NBA game (March, 2019), having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot (May, 2019) and rehabbing before reuniting both with FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team (2021). The documentary also featured a sit-down interview with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who answered Gasol honestly on if he should try to play in the NBA and compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

Golden Goals: Countries still in pursuit of an Olympic medal ahead of Tokyo

  Golden Goals: Countries still in pursuit of an Olympic medal ahead of Tokyo From Africa to Oceania, over 70 countries are still waiting for the moment one of their athletes brings back an Olympic medal.But while the United States has had no difficulty collecting gold, silver and bronze throughout the years, some countries haven’t been so fortunate in achieving their golden goals. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes 206 National Olympic Committees (NOC) in addition to the Refugee Olympic Team, but over 70 countries that currently compete in the Games have never won an medal.

“If you had a chance to win in the Olympics, which your team does, that’s a goal that I think you should probably pursue,” Jackson told him. “As far as the grind of an 82-game season in the future? If you play 21 or 22 years next year? You’re taking risks.”

Just like how Bryant shared both his convictions and insecurities in his documentary, Gasol showed similar candor and vulnerability in his.

“What he tried to do was share knowledge, share experiences and potentially inspire others with your own story,” Gasol said of Bryant’s project. “That’s what we’re trying to do with my documentary as well: just try to share how I’m doing it and the things that I’ve faced and that I’ve lived with my family and my team. It shows how we approach different things. Hopefully it inspires, motivates and shares some knowledge with others.”

How Gasol rehabbed from his injury

Perhaps Gasol offers more inspiration and motivation when Spain plays Japan in preliminary play on Monday. He will team with his brother (Marc Gasol) and two other NBA players (Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez) in hopes to win their first Olympic gold medal after already winning silver (2008, 2012) and bronze (2016). Gasol also helped FC Barcelona win a La Liga championship after previously helping them to two La Liga titles during his three-year stint (1998-2001) before his storied 19-year NBA career. Then, Gasol won two NBA championships and appeared in six All-Star games.

USA Olympics schedule today: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch Team USA at 2021 Tokyo Games

  USA Olympics schedule today: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch Team USA at 2021 Tokyo Games Sporting News has you covered on how to watch every Team USA competition, including start times and TV channels for every sport, every day of the Tokyo Olympics.Almost.

“This is a huge gift that I’m experiencing,” Gasol said. “I’m privileged to be playing at 41 again at a high level after all I’ve been through.”

In the 2018-19 season, Gasol missed 26 games with the San Antonio Spurs after fracturing his left foot. After negotiating a buyout to join the Milwaukee Bucks, Gasol played in only three games in March before having more issues with his foot and having surgery in May. Gasol then signed with the Portland Trail Blazers for the 2019-20 season only to be waived less than two months into the season after it became clear that his recovery would take longer than anticipated.

FINALS ENTRY: 'Keeping their word': Despite draining NBA Finals, three players committed to Team USA men's Olympic basketball

OLYMPIC DEBUT: 3-on-3 basketball at the Tokyo Olympics: Everything you need to know about new Olympic sport

That left Gasol wrestling with uncertainty about his basketball future. After all, Gasol said doctors advised him not to try playing again after having two surgeries.

“I wasn’t going to give up. I didn’t want to end my career with an injury,” Gasol said. “I wanted to end playing on the court after playing so many great years and having so many great experiences.”

Simone Biles Reveals Details on 'Twisties' Problem

  Simone Biles Reveals Details on 'Twisties' Problem "My mind and body are simply not in sync," the gymnast wrote on Instagram, explaining how she was feeling, the risks of her routine and her current practice routine in Tokyo. Very Olympic Today is SI’s daily Olympics newsletter. You can receive each issue for free in your inbox by subscribing here. To continue reading the newsletter at SI.com every day, along with the rest of our Olympics coverage, readers can subscribe to SI.com here.In the early morning hours on Friday, Simone Biles took to Instagram, posting a series of training videos and answering questions from fans.

Pau Gasol holding a sign: After winning two silver medals (2008, 2012) and a bronze (2016), Pau Gasol is aiming for his first gold medal. © ARIS MESSINIS, AFP via Getty Images After winning two silver medals (2008, 2012) and a bronze (2016), Pau Gasol is aiming for his first gold medal.

Easier said than done.

Gasol experienced what he called “a difficult year in different ways” related to the pandemic, Bryant’s passing and his rehab that he described as “very long” and “uncertain.” Stationed in the Bay Area instead of his native Spain, Gasol initially rehabbed in a weight room, gym and garage without a trainer to offer instruction and motivation directly. Though he felt tempted not to work, Gasol said he often thought about how Bryant would have handled those circumstances.

“He really pushed himself to the limit,” Gasol said. “He pushed through a lot of injuries and a lot of pain and discomfort. He was relentless and very disciplined on his rehab and his recovery. During my recovery, I always had him present.”

Gasol also relied on other positive influences, including his family, trainers and teammates.

Joaquín Juan, Gasol’s longtime trainer and physiotherapist from Spain, sent him workouts to complete while offering feedback on his rehab from afar. Marc Guillet, Gasol’s trainer based in the Bay Area, offered a personal presence. Raül López, Gasol’s former teammate on the Spanish national team, completed basketball workouts with him via Zoom. During his training sessions, Gasol completed exercises that required more from his right foot to minimize pressure on his left foot.

3 teams that should start thinking about signing Kris Bryant

  3 teams that should start thinking about signing Kris Bryant Kris Bryant will have plenty of suitors during his high-profile free agency this offseason. It came down to the wire, but Kris Bryant was traded to the San Francisco Giants at the deadline. Bryant had spent his entire professional career in the Chicago Cubs organization. He was a four-time NL All-Star on the North Side of Chicago, winning NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, NL MVP in 2016 and most importantly, made the final assist to help the Cubs win Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. While he plays the rest of 2021 in the Bay Area, his free agency will be utterly fascinating.

In between two-a-day workouts, Gasol spent time with his wife, Catherine, during her pregnancy before their daughter, Elisabet Gianna Gasol, was born last September.

Returning to the court

Eventually, the Lakers and Gasol talked about reuniting partly because of their history and because Marc joined the team last season. But those talks did not lead to anything.

“It wasn’t really that close,” Gasol said. “The NBA was under severe protocols and restrictions for any player outside of the roster to be able to practice or be able to have any individual workouts. So it was just very hard to take the necessary steps I would’ve needed to join a team.”

So, Gasol brought his basketball career full circle with FC Barcelona both for personal and practical reasons.

“I could complete the last part of my rehab that I needed in order to play competitively,” Gasol said. “But even when I signed with Barcelona, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play. I didn’t know if my foot could sustain the load and the demand that I was going to put it through again.”

Therefore, Gasol returned with restrictions.

“I would love to be playing a lot of times and practicing a lot of times on the court with things I used to do five years ago. But my body can’t sustain it.” Gasol said. “So it took a collective effort from the team, the coach, my teammates understanding and same thing with the national team. It’s understanding that it’s something I have to be cautious with, but I’ve been able to enjoy having a lot of fun and playing again.”

His role did not mirror what he experienced during his first stint with FC Barcelona. Yet, Gasol considered it “very special” that he played in limited minutes at the end of the season and helped the team win another La Liga title. Gasol will try to do the same for the Spanish national team, which he called “a very good team.” Still, Gasol predicted “the competition is going to be fierce,” which could include Team USA even if a handful of stars have abstained following the compressed NBA season.

USA Olympics schedule 2021: How to watch Tokyo Games live, on delay in United States

  USA Olympics schedule 2021: How to watch Tokyo Games live, on delay in United States The 2021 Tokyo Olympics are here and Team USA will once again be a competitor across many of the Summer Games' 28 sports. Here's how to watch the team compete in the United States.Americans will be active in the 28 sports offered at the Summer Games. While the U.S. doesn't have a team or individual participating in every sport, they will be included in most and will be contenders per usual. As such, viewers will have plenty of opportunities to watch the U.S. in action.

“They are a very talented team,” Gasol said of Team USA. “You have to play your best on both ends of the floor and take them out of your game. That’s what we will try to do. That’s against any team, but that’s against the best teams even more. So we’ll see if our paths cross.”

Gasol crossed paths with Team USA in two gold-medal games when Bryant played. That Gasol even has the chance to cross paths again partly traces back with how Bryant indirectly inspired Gasol during his rehab.

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Sign up for USA TODAY's various subscription deals.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pau Gasol on how Kobe Bryant and Spanish team inspired quest to end career with gold medal

Sorry, America: China's leading the real Olympic medal count .
China is kicking the United States' tail in these Olympics, although you wouldn’t know it if you just scanned the medal tables in the American media. The flag of the country that the gold medalist represents is raised higher than the others. They play the anthem of the gold medalist, not the others. There is no subtlety here. There is no room for interpretation. At no point was it ever suggested that the three spots are equals. If they were, then they’d just hand out three gold medals. © Provided by Yahoo! Sports China's won more seven more gold medals than the United States, so China is winning the medal count.

usr: 1
This is interesting!