Pau Gasol is speaking out after being benched in the fourth quarter of his Los Angeles Lakers' win against the New Orleans Hornets Tuesday.
Gasol, 32-year-old Lakers forward, was vocal about being replaced on the court by forward Earl Clark late in the game.
"I'm a competitor, I'm a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don't like, I don't appreciate," Gasol said in an ESPN report after the game Tuesday.
Although Gasol contributed seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists after playing 21 minutes in the game where his team led going into the fourth quarter, he admitted that playing for his team's new head coach Mike D'Antoni was no easy feat.
"It's a challenge," Gasol said. "We're challenged every day, and I'm challenged every day to keep my calm and keep my peace and not let my emotions take over my words."
Gasol is known as a mild-mannered basketball player on and off of the basketball court, but he has been speaking up in recent weeks while his team has adjusted to a new coach over the past few weeks. While D'Antoni let the media know that he held an important team meeting to work out issues with chemistry on his team, Gasol was not happy that the information was made public.
"The meeting was a team thing. It was intended to stay that way. I'm not going to talk about what was said or what wasn't said," Gasol told the press last week. "I think that's enough for us to talk about that we don't have to talk about what was said because I think it's something that should stay within the team and nothing should get leaked out in the first place."
Now, Gasol has been even more vocal about his need to be on the floor during crunch time in games.
"I think the finishing is more important (than starting)," Gasol said in an ESPN report. "I think the best players should finish off games. That's just the way it's got to be. When the game is on the line, you want to be on the floor. That's more important."
While D'Antoni defended his decision not to play Gasol because the Hornets, "went small" Gasol did not let up. He let the world know about his disappointment with not helping his team to win in the fourth quarter.
"It's fun to win but when a team comes back on you the way the Hornets did tonight and you are not there as a high-quality player and as a competitor, it's frustrating," Gasol said.