“Put your big-boy pants,” was the Los Angeles Laker’ superstar’s message to the all-star big man who had been pulled in the final moments of L.A.’s last two games.
Acclimating to coach Mike D’Antoni’s new scheme has been problematic for most everyone, as the Lakers’ 8-9 record attests. But Bryant wants no excuses for Gasol, the talented 7-footer.
“Just adjust. Just adjust,” Bryant told the media after a loss to Orlando Sunday night. “You can’t whine about it. You can’t complain about it.”
Gasol insists he is not “irritated” by the benching, but “I like to be out there,” he said .It’s upsetting for me as a player but I won’t allow it to irritate me.”
D’Antoni doe no appear to be patient with Gasol, either.
“Just talk to him,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no magic words out there. He’s going to have to play. We just have to be a more dynamic team. We’re slow right now. It’s just athletically, we’re struggling.”
He added that he didn’t want to “lose Pau,” to which Bryant said: “We’re not going ot lose him. That’s just not going to happen. I’ve been around him long enough. I know how to deal with him.
“Pau has got to make some adjustments, obviously, to his game,” Bryant added. “He might not be posting up as much as he likes, but he just has to adjust.
“The reality is, I’ve adjusted, I’ve never run this many screen-rolls in my entire career. But I’ve worked on it. I’ve worked on handling the ball. I’ve worked on coming off of screens and making plays. I’m used to being in the post much, much more but you have to adjust.
“You have to master what it is that we’re trying to do here and Pau is talented enough and he’s good enough to be able to do that.”
Gasol has been dealing with pain in both knees, which, he said, limits his mobility. “I think we’re all trying to figure it out and we’re all trying to do our best to win the game. The coach makes his decisions and you got to respect that.”
D’Antoni is in charge, but Bryant surely is the heart of the team and the kick-butt leader.
“There’s no excuses to be made, there’s no whining,” he said. “No putting your head down. We’re here, we have the talent to make adjustments, we have to make them. Period.
“I’ll kick everybody’s ass in this locker room if that doesn’t happen. That’s the attitude that you have to have. Metta (World Peace) is the same way. Dwight (Howard) has that in him as well. Even though he smiles a lot, he still cares a lot about this thing. Like I said, come hell or high water, it has to get done.”