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Why Kobe Bryant gave Pau Gasol a nickname inspired by Pablo Escobar

Lakers, Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Pablo Escobar

Former NBA center Pau Gasol reminisced about his time with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, including what sparked him to become the superstar’s sidekick during those championship-winning teams in 2009 and 2010.

“They gave me two [nicknames],” the former Lakers talent told Spanish publication La Resistencia (via Marca).

“[The first one was] the ‘Spaniard’ from [the movie] Gladiator, and they were playing the movie soundtrack and everything.”

The second nickname was likely the most impactful:

“Kobe called me Pablo,” added the former Lakers big. “Kobe always tried to get my inner fire out and he called me Pablo because of Pablo Escobar.

“Not because he was a drug trafficker, but because of that murderous instinct. To [help me] get that aggressiveness, he compared me to him.”

Escobar was a murderous trafficker that earned the No. 1 spot in the DEA’s and the FBI’s most-wanted list during the ’90s. But he was also relentlessly aggressive and a go-getter by nature, which eventually resulted in building his cocaine empire in Colombia.

That thirst for more eventually forced Escobar to expand to parts of South America and the United States, which would eventually end in his demise in 1993.

While the Lakers legend likely didn’t draw that straight of a comparison with the 7-foot Gasol, he wanted that reckless fire in his guts — something that eventually worked out as they won back-to-back championships together.

“Pablo” Gasol went from playing for a Memphis Grizzlies team with little direction to fighting for title contention every season with Bryant at his side. Surely, the Spaniard still cherishes that nickname despite the rather odd backstory.