Pau Gasol reflects on ex-teammate Lamar Odom


CHICAGO — Over the past 48 hours, support has poured out from every imaginable corner of the NBA for Lamar Odom, who has been fighting for his life since he was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel on Tuesday. Former coaches and teammates have offered their own accounts of Odom, who according to everybody was one of the most beloved teammates in the league.

Pau Gasol was Odom’s teammate for four seasons, from 2008 to 2011, and the pair won two titles together in 2009 and 2010. With their combined versatility and skill sets for their size, Odom and Gasol were extremely difficult for opponents to guard at the end of games. Needless to say, Gasol has been watching closely what has been happening with his friend and former teammate.

“We had a very special bond,” an emotional Gasol told reporters on Wednesday in the Bulls’ locker room, following a preseason loss to the Pistons. “We played with each other a lot, we finished most games or all games together. We were versatile and unselfish, it was fun. It was really fun to play and we had an incredible respect for each other and we just played so well together and with that team — it’s just difficult (to hear about his current condition). It really is. It’s really hard.”

Like everyone else, Gasol has been monitoring the situation, although he said it’s been hard to stay in touch with Odom through the years as he’s battled drug addiction and a messy, ongoing divorce with Khloe Kardashian, among other things.

“I got some updates today and they weren’t good,” Gasol said. “It was an emotional day for me. I’m just trying to keep it together for now and hopefully he’ll come back and he’ll recover well. But right now from what I’ve heard it’s a difficult situation that he’s finding himself in. So we’ll see how it unravels, but it’s just really sad that a person with that type of a heart and talent has gone through so much. To get to this point I’m sure he’s gone through a lot of things these last few years. So it breaks my heart.”

There’s one thing that every teammate who has ever played with Odom has invariably said this week: he’s unselfish. A seven-footer with Odom’s court vision and playmaking ability is a rare commodity in the NBA, and his personality and team-first mentality has matched that skillset throughout his career, leading to a reputation as one of everybody’s favorite teammates.

“A great teammate,” Gasol said when asked to describe his years with Odom. “Full of joy. A guy that you want to have in your locker room. Unselfish. An incredible guy. I had a lot of memorable moments with him. That’s why it’s just so hard this situation, and to see him at this point fighting for his life.”