Kobe Bryant: FCB could compete in NBA
BARCELONA -- Regal FC Barcelona has played the Los Angeles Lakers in preseason games twice in the last two years -- a 92-88 win Thursday night at the Palau St. Jordi and a four-point loss to the Lakers at Staples Center in 2008.
Despite Barcelona's respectable showings against a team that has made it to the Finals three straight years and won two titles, Lakers coach Phil Jackson doesn't think the 2010 Euroleague champion could sustain that type of success in the NBA.
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When asked if FC Barcelona could be a competitive team over the course of an 82-game NBA season, Jackson replied flatly: "No."
It wasn't the small sample size of games his Lakers have played against them that shaped Jackson's opinion. It was the small size of the players on FCB's roster.
"They played really well [Thursday], but they're not up to the competition that we face night in and night out," Jackson said. "But that's not taking anything away from them. The physicality of our game, the size of our players, those are things that night in and night out are very difficult to contest."
When informed of Jackson's comments, Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual pointed out his team beat the Lakers and came close to doing it in the previous matchup while playing with NBA rules instead of FIBA rules.
"If we played [in the NBA] and we changed our way of doing things, I think we would be able to compete differently," Pasqual said.
Pau Gasol certainly seemed to think his former team could enjoy a similar experience to the success he's had if it joined the NBA as a new team.
"FCB has a great team," Gasol said. "They showed it out there on the court today. I'm sure they are still going to be able to win lots of titles this year in all the competitions that they're in. I'm sure they'll have a shot at winning them."
Kobe Bryant let out an exasperated sigh when told about his coach's opinion ("I don't know why he says these things some time," Bryant said) and then disagreed with Jackson.
"I think they execute extremely well, they know each other extremely well, they move the ball extremely well and that's what you're looking for," Bryant said. "In the NBA, teams that do that are few and far in between, teams that play together as a unit. You see a lot of isolation game; you see a lot of guys going one-on-one. They do a great job moving the ball, they do a great job helping each other defensively, so I disagree, but, what do I know?"
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. http://twitter.com/mcten.