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Chicago Bulls star Pau Gasol revealed that facing the Los Angeles Lakers and many of his former teammates was “weird” but he remained professional throughout.
The Bulls sealed a comfortable 113-93 win on Christmas Day, and despite scoring a game-high 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, Gasol conceded that it wasn’t easy for him facing his old teammates.
“It’s weird,” Gasol said.
“Obviously it’s an emotional game because you find yourself on the opposite side of a team that you’ve played for for so many years and you’ve been through so much [with them]. So it was weird, difficult at first to kind of get going and once you start playing you’re just playing the game the best way you can.”
However, there was no on-court reunion for the Spaniard with Kobe Bryant as the latter sat out the game after suffering from soreness and citing “old age” as the reason behind missing out.
Bryant insisted that it was a difficult decision for him to make as he loves playing in Chicago, but Gasol revealed that the pair did meet before the game and spent time together to catch up and discuss both basketball and personal matters.
“We saw each other for a while,” Gasol said. “We sat down for over two hours. Just catching up. It felt good to really to hang out, to talk, spend quality time together. I really enjoyed it. Obviously I miss him, I don’t get to see him that much now for obvious reasons, but he’s like a brother to me and I wish him the best. I have the utmost respect for who he is and we’re always going to support [each other].”
Gasol played a key role in the Bulls’ fifth straight win and teammate Joakim Noah believes that he was highly motivated to prove a point to those within his former organisation that he still has what it takes to play at an All-Star level.
Meanwhile, Gasol admitted that the January 29 meeting at the Staples Center will likely be a more emotional night for him, but for now he is fully focused on the next game for Chicago.