Pau Gasol: MJ and Kobe 'had a very special relationship'

CHICAGO -- As Kobe Bryant continues his retirement tour on Sunday night in Chicago, his longstanding relationship with Michael Jordan is sure to be a topic of discussion. Former Los Angeles Lakers teammate and current Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol acknowledged recently that he and Bryant shared several conversations about the Jordan connection in the past.

"He talked to me about when he played [against] Michael the first few times," Gasol said. "Asking a few questions and how he mentored him throughout his career. They had a very special relationship; I think he looked up to Michael a lot. And [Kobe] was able to reciprocate and replicate a lot of the things that Michael did and has done. So [he's] a pretty special player."

From a personal perspective, Gasol is looking forward to playing against his old friend one more time. The pair squared off a couple of times during last week's All-Star Game. Gasol knows Sunday's regular-season matchup won't have the same good-natured feel, but he is excited nonetheless.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "The last two times that we played against each other in L.A. it was really emotional, really cool. I think this last time at the All-Star Game ... we also had our moment and it was really nice. I look forward to going at it one last time against him and enjoying the experience by making sure my mind is in the right place and I help my team to win."

As for the reception Bryant will get, Gasol joked that his buddy may hear a few boos from the Chicago crowd.

"Terrible," he said of the expected reception. "They're going to boo him. They're going to boo him all game long, every time he touches the ball."

After a good laugh, Gasol said he thinks Bryant will be cheered and embraced in Chicago the same way he has been all over the league.

"I'm sure that people are going to enjoy -- just like everywhere else -- but I'm sure this court has meaning to Kobe," Gasol said. "So I'm sure fans are going to enjoy the game, hopefully don't cheer for him too much, and make sure we do what we're supposed to do as a team and don't get distracted by any of that and come with the right mindset and get that dub."