Once upon a time Kobe was sad. Really, really sad.
But then a miracle happened.
The day Pau Gasol came to the Lakers was the happiest Kobe Bryant has ever looked outside of winning a championship. Kobe was all smiles talking about how he had called Pau the night of the trade and told him they were going to win a ring.
Before even having one practice, Kobe and Pau were running pick and roll sets and absolutely dominating defenses. The chemistry was instant and as far as I can remember, unlike anything we had seen in basketball. That year the Lakers went from being a frustrating team on the fringe of the playoffs “featuring players like Smush Parker and Kwami Brown” to a contender based solely on the chemistry of Kobe and Pau.
The years that followed LA flourished. On paper the team never seemed dominant but Kobe and Pau were so connected it didn’t matter, they just found ways to win. Kobe and Pau brought out the best in each other and seemed unstoppable from 2008 through the 2011 seasons.
No one seems to know what really happened in 2010/2011, but like most stories it seems a love interest was involved. Pau got engaged in the 2010/2011 season and at the time everything seemed to be going great. The team was winning, Kobe and Pau were dominating and it looked like LA was on their way to a third championship. With about a month left in the season everything went wrong though, there are many rumors about what happened but really we don’t know. What we do know, is that the Lakers season went into complete shambles and Pau wouldn’t be himself coming into the playoffs. It culminated into an early playoff exit that had Phil Jackson pounding on the Spaniard's chest desperately trying to get his head back into the game.
The Lakers would never recover and Pau would never be the same.
Looking back, 2010/2011 was the end of the Kobe/Pau era. There were moments here and there where Kobe and Pau would dominate but the team had moved on from focusing on them. First it was Bynum and later it was Dwight as the interior focal point, but the Lakers basically gave up on Pau and Kobe as a dominant force. Personally I think the team gave up on Kobe and Pau much too soon. Kobe and Pau were special and I wish they would have stuck with it a little longer. Now it is over, the greatest two man duo to play the game are separated. I will never forget their run though and I can’t wait for the day those 24 and 16 jersey’s hang next to each other in Staples Center, side by side once again.