New York (NBA/Olympics) – It has been a complicated season for the Los Angeles Lakers. Less than a year after the retirement of their legendary head coach, Phil Jackson, the team failed to win a 16th title and had to deal with many issues throughout their 2011-2012 campaign.
After failing to land star guard Chris Paul – a member of the USA’s preliminary squad for the London Games - and Dwight Howard in blockbuster trades, the purple and gold team had to solve disciplinary problems with some of its members, such as Metta World Peace.
One of the Lakers to have gone through a tough year has been Spanish veteran Pau Gasol.
His name was included in all of the team's possible trades and the 31-year-old center had an irregular season by his standards. He was heavily criticised during the last playoffs by his teammate Kobe Bryant.
But the 2.13m forward-centre will now have the possibility to put that behind him with the Olympics to come this summer in London.
Alongside Juan Carlos Navarro, José Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and his brother Marc, Pau has the opportunity to add to his already incredible list of achievements.
FIBA.com caught up with Gasol to reflect on his season and the perspective of playing in the Olympics.
FIBA: Pau, your team was eliminated for the second time in a row in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. What are your thoughts about the 2011-2012 Lakers’ season?
Gasol: I think that we had a good season, but it could have been way better since we didn’t achieve our goal of winning the championship. But it was a strange season due to the lockout and all of its consequences. We weren’t able to have a decent training camp and the schedule was very compact. I’m not looking for excuses, but this season was very particular.
FIBA: What about for you personally, how would you qualify your campaign?
Gasol: It was hard for me at times. This season wasn’t the most quiet for the team but I tried to give my best every time I was on the court. A lot of adjustments were made this year with the new head coach (Mike Brown). I had to play a different role and adapt myself to the team at times, but I think that did well.
FIBA: With the Olympics to come, you’ll have an opportunity to win another medal with the Spanish national team. What are your expectations for London?
Gasol: My expectations are high. It will be a tough competition for everyone but I’m looking forward to being in London. My teammates and I will fight for the gold medal. I think that we can win the tournament. We have a lot of talent and everyone will be very motivated to give it their all on the court. We’re afraid of no one.
FIBA: Spain lost against the USA in the Gold Medal Game four years ago in Beijing. Is that game still on your mind?
Gasol: Sometimes I think about that game. But it will be different in London. It would be good to have a rematch this summer because the USA national team is always a strong opponent. But it would be a huge mistake for everyone to consider USA and Spain as the only contenders for the gold medal. Every team will be giving their best to reach the medals.
FIBA: What would it represent for you to win a gold medal at the Olympics?
Gasol: Winning a gold medal at the Olympics would be a huge satisfaction. I’ve won a lot of titles and medals since I started my career, but I’m always looking for new achievements. I’m “hungry” for new medals. It would be incredible for Spain to win a gold medal. It would be a great prize for Spanish basketball.