The current era of basketball, at least from 2009 until now, can be considered a golden age for players at the point guard position. Almost half of the league currently has a former All Star point guard playing significant minutes on its roster. The decade before however should be recognized as the era of the power forward. The league was loaded at the 4 position, and many of those forwards were influential in how the players at that size play on both ends. In the upcoming month we will highlight a different former All Star 4 man on the fourth day of the week in a series titled “Flashing Back Forward.”
2x NBA Champion, 6x All Star, 2001-2002 Rookie Of The Year.
Its crazy to think that as major as an acquisition Pau Gasol was when he was traded to the Lakers that before he got to L.A. he had only made one All Star team. Regardless the towering Spaniard was an instant impact player when he arrived in the league. Gasol toiled away on some subpar Grizzlies teams, losing in the first round three years in a row to superior Western Conference opponents.. But once he got to Los Angeles, he elevated Kobe and the guys into championship contention. The man was so skilled. At 7 feet, he had the ability to handle the ball, pass with flair, shoot from distance (although he didn’t extend to the three point line until LATER in his career), catch to finish, put up hook shots, pretty much everything in the offensive low post arsenal you could think of. His smarts were second to none. What’s important is his front court versatility. When Andrew Bynum would get injured, he would slide in as a center with Lamar Odom. When Bynum was healthy, he would play as power forward. As a lead star he couldn’t take teams far, but as a co-star to Kobe Bryant he was perfect because he was very unselfish, and when they were in sync it was a sight to see. He always shot around 50%, he was smart with his playmaking, and aesthetically was just a pleasing player to watch. Too bad we had to wait so long to see it on a major stage. But two titles later, he showed he was worthy of admission. Pau even went on to make All Star teams with Chicago for one of this writer’s favorite teams ever, the 2015 Chicago Bulls (disregard what happened in that Cleveland series in the playoffs. Don’t even mention it.) Let us not note there are many times that Gasol looks like a large lanky turkey. Long live PAU!