Exclusive: Pau Gasol on Lakers’ rematch vs. Celtics in 2010 NBA Finals
The rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics goes back decades. The two storied franchises have 33 NBA titles between them. They met in the NBA Finals on numerous occasions with the most recent being 10 years ago when Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol led the way against a star-studded Celtics roster, which included what could be four Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo.
As part of our 10th anniversary series on the Lakers’ back-to-back titles, Gasol opened up about matching up with the Celtics in two of three straight Finals appearances and being a part of what has been a rivalry that has been able to stand the test of time.
“The rivalry goes back, and that’s the beauty and one of the privileges to be a part of those Finals,” Gasol told ClutchPoints. “The Celtics and the Lakers met, and there’s such a strong history with those two franchises. To have been able to add to that history, it has been quite an honor from my part.
“It could’ve been any other team that we could’ve met in the Finals. You compete, and you go at it, but it happened to be Boston. I think it added a lot to it.
“The first time it went their way, and they deserved it, and they earned it. The second time that we met two years later, it went our way, and we earned it. It was special. Nothing against those players, it was just a matter of competition. It was a matter of it’s going to be you, or it is going to be us, and I’d rather it be us [laughs].
“Let’s just get it done. Let’s go after it. Let’s make sure what happened in ’08 didn’t happen in ’10.”
The Lakers may have fallen to Garnett’s Celtics in 2008, but were able to bounce back with a vengeance the next two seasons. Los Angeles went on to win back-to-back titles making easy work of Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic squad in 2009 and then got some revenge against Boston a year later in 2010 in an epic series which went the full seven games ending with confetti falling from the rafters at the Staples Center.
With Gasol sharing the spotlight with Bryant during this historic stretch in Lakers history, the two-time NBA champion talked about how difficult it can be to win back-to-back titles in this league.
“It’s tough,” Gasol said of repeating in the NBA. “I feel because it takes a toll on you. It’s a grind, and it takes a lot out of you physically and emotionally.
“It’s hard to put yourself in that position and state of mind after you win. We were able to do it. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it another time.
“As I listened to an interview, actually watching “The Last Dance” documentary with Steve Kerr talking after it. It’s hard to repeat. It’s very hard to three-peat and go beyond that even because everybody wants to be where you are, and you are on their radar; they are going after you. They want what you have.
“So you get tested every single night during the regular season because they’re going to show up for you. You’re the champion, so you have to bring your best effort and best game every single night. And again, it’s a grind to do it consecutively. That’s a credit to teams that have done it on consecutive occasions even if they have the most talented player at the time.”
In the final part of our exclusive interview with Gasol, the former Lakers star talks about LeBron James and if Los Angeles ever thought they’d face the budding superstar in the NBA Finals at some point during their championship run.
You can also read the first three parts of Pau Gasol’s exclusive interview with ClutchPoints here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. Pau talked jersey retirement, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James’ squad in L.A., returning to the Lakers, and more.