Lakers victory cheered in Spain

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: The Los Angeles Lakers are the new NBA champs. The Lakers downed the Orlando Magic 99 to 86 yesterday to win the NBA Finals four games to one. MVP Kobe Bryant was the Lakers hero of the series but the inside play of Spaniard Pau Gasol was huge especially in last night's deciding game. Gasol scored 14 points and took down 15 rebounds. Raul Barrigon is managing editor of the English language basketball news website hoops hype. He's in Madrid. And Raul tell us first of all what kind of excitement is going on there in Spain today over this victory.

RAUL BARRIGON: Hi Marco. You know everybody here is crazy. It's been huge here. It's a lot of reaction. Lots of impact from sportsmen and politicians ? all the country. You know there's a tough time here in Spain with the economic crisis and this is a happy moment for all of us. This is a country that loves basketball since you know 1984 with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles when we won the silver medal against the US against Michael Jordan and those great players. It's unbelievable. In 2001 when I was covering the Spanish King's Cup here in Spain Pau Gasol was a teenager and he won the Spanish King's Cup here in Spain Pau Gasol was a teenager and he won the Spanish King's Cup, not by himself. He was a MVP. And I was in the locker room and the idea of a teenager to win that tournament would be like a dream come true. But he didn't feel like he had accomplished anything. He told me, the sky's the limit for myself. He just felt his career would be special, unique. His career has been an example for everybody here in Spain and a lot of players have told him that they're in his steps.

WERMAN: So in his town Sant Boi de Llobregat ? is that pronounced correctly? I don't know.

BARRIGON: Yeah.
WERMAN: What's been the reaction there today? They must just be head over heels.

BARRIGON: You know he's a hero ? like a God. He's put that little town in the map so everybody's crazy.

WERMAN: And as you said for him when you saw him as a teenager you kind of felt like in his eyes the sky was the limit. Now he is second in the league in the NBA in field goals. He's fifth in the league in rebounds. A lot of people said that Kobe Bryant and the Lakers couldn't win another title without Shaquille O'Neil. So is Spain now saying that Pau Gasol is the new Shaquille O'Neil or simply one of several very strong players on the court for the Lakers who brought them to this crown?

BARRIGON: Yeah you know he's not Shaquille O'Neil. Everybody knows that Shaquille O'Neil is a legend and so? We're just very happy that Pau Gasol is the sidekick of Kobe Bryant. He was the best player on the championship team apart from Kobe Bryant so this is historic. All the people here in Spain during the 80s and 90s followed the Magic Johnsons and the Michael Jordans so Pau Gasol is now officially like those guys... It's unbelievable.

WERMAN: There's been kind of a trend over the last decade with the NBA getting more and more global. Does that kind of headline really evoke any surprise anymore in Spain? I mean it kind of feels like Spain is kind of a natural feeding ground these days for the NBA.

BARRIGON: Yeah you know we have here in Spain the best league in the world ? obviously apart from the NBA. You know we had an example with the Argentinians like five years ago with [INDISCERNIBLE] and all those guys and Fioni. You know they first won the championship with [INDISCERNIBLE] as the star but with Tony Parker, the French one ? the French star ? and you know really, Argentinean so it's normal trying to add? International players are getting you know better in the games and you know having an impact on the NBA so it's not like a very big surprise.

WERMAN: Raul what are your impressions about the game last night? What's your 10-word analysis on what happened?

BARRIGON: It was already written you know after what happened in game four.

WERMAN: Two words ? already written.

BARRIGON: Everybody expected that like as what you know in Orlando what happened in game four.

WERMAN: Raul Barrigon is managing editor of the English language basketball website hoops hype. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

BARRIGON: Thank you very much Marco.

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