Lakers Defend Pau Gasol’s Toughness

After Amar’e Stoudemire joined millions of others who have called the Laker big a softie, his teammates and coaches came to his defense. ESPN has the quotes: “Lakers forwards Odom and Ron Artest were informed of the latest talk against Gasol as they changed in the locker room before Tuesday’s game against Utah. ‘Pau got moves. He don’t have to be hard. That’s why he got us,’ said a shirtless Artest as he flexed his chest and arm muscles. ‘How are you soft and average 10 rebounds?’ chimed in Odom. Gasol is sixth in the league in rebounds per game this season, averaging 10.2 boards to go with his 18.9 points per game scoring average. Artest didn’t let the moment pass without throwing a zinger back at Stoudemire. ‘Amare posed on the front of [a magazine] butt naked!’ Artest said. ‘OK, is that tough?’ An unclothed Stoudemire appeared in the ESPN the Magazine’s annual ‘Body Issue’ in October. Jackson offered a simple solution for Gasol to shed the soft label. ‘Win another championship,’ Jackson said. ‘Just go out and do it again. That keeps people quiet really quick … The perception of this tall, lanky guy and how he plays the game may appear that way, but he somehow has a knack of getting those 20 points and 10 rebounds, night in and night out,’ Jackson said of Gasol, who played Tuesday despite suffering a bone bruise in his right knee Sunday against the Nuggets. ‘He’s a pretty amazing athlete and the tenacity is there. He’s a tenacious guy. He wants to win and it’s evident the way we’ve played since he came on this team.'”