HoopsHype.com Interviews

Pau Gasol: "I'm proud of myself"
by Lance Wiedower / March 2, 2003

When the Grizz brought you in last season, everyone asked 'Pau who'? Now it seems people know who you are. Talk about that and your adjustment over the past season and a half.

Pau Gasol: Yeah, exactly. I've been very good, I think. I've adjusted well. I'm proud of myself. No one knew me when I came. I was just another foreigner from Spain.

Speaking of being a foreigner, there are several outstanding players in the league from outside the U.S. Is the league ready for a U.S. vs. the World All-Star game? There are enough strong foreign players to make a case.

PG: Obviously we could make an All-Star team of international players. We've got a lot of good foreign players in the league. But I like the way it is with West vs. the East.

You've played in the past two All-Star Rookie Challenge games. Are you ready for the big All-Star game? Is that a goal of yours?

PG: That's my goal. Every player who wants to be someone in this league, I think has that goal.

I'm sure you've been asked this a lot lately. But how does the trade for Mike Miller change this team?

PG: I'll tell you when he plays. It's too soon to judge. He hasn't played much. Obviously, he's a great player. Playing with Tracy McGrady, he couldn't do much on the perimeter, but he'll get his chance now.

Talk about what has changed with this team since last season, your first in the league. You guys are already approaching the franchise record for wins [22 set last season]. That's probably not a concern with this team.

PG: No. We're not concerned with that.

Talk about what is different about this team then.

PG: Hubie is here now. We grew up this year compared to last season. We're playing much better as a team. Defensively, we're improving as a team.

That improvement has shown since the All-Star break. You guys are playing .500 ball since then.

PG: We are. We're playing pretty well right now. We're getting some wins.

Players talk about wanting to improve something each season. Currently, you are leading the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks. You are playing well. But what do you need to work on to improve your game?

PG: I've got to get better on defense. I have to get more blocks. I need to dominate in the paint. I'm doing well on offense, but my defense needs work.

Do you feel you are getting respect from opposing players and the officials?

PG: I have just a little. I have a long way to go, though. I'm getting a little more calls now. But I'm not a 10-year veteran guy. I'm not on a playoff team. Hopefully the calls will start to come.

Lance Wiedower is the sports editor for the Collierville Herald (TN) and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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