With Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls paying the Los Angeles Lakers a nationally-televised visit Thursday night, Kobe Bryant reflected on their championship-winning partnership.

Gasol eventually left the Lakers through free agency two seasons ago, and Kobe believes the fanbase (and front-office) never truly realized his value.

Bryant claims that he knew a 2008 NBA Finals trip was in the cards on Pau’s first score for the Purple and Gold.

Per ESPN:

“I thought that it was really silly and I felt bad for him going through all that stuff,” Bryant said Tuesday before the Lakers faced the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. “That’s why I defended him so much.

 

“I think the city of L.A. didn’t really appreciate what he did and what we had, and so as a consequence, everybody kind of fell in line with the [former Lakers coach] Mike D’Antoni rhetoric of small ball and all this other bulls—. For a guy that has two championships to be treated that way, you don’t do that, man.”

 

Bryant said his main memory of Gasol is a conversation the two had in February 2008, when Gasol first joined the Lakers after being acquired in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. […] “I immediately went to his room at the hotel — we were staying on the same floor — [and] I went to his room, we had about a 30-, 40-minute conversation,” Bryant said. “That’s the thing I remember the most because that was the beginning.”