The Chicago Bulls, despite several wobbles already this season, sit in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference and look primed to step foot in the NBA playoffs for the seventh year in a row.
The Windy City franchise though have made it to the Conference Finals only once in that run - and not to the Finals themselves since winning it in 1998.
As such the experience of Spanish veteran Pau Gasol - a two time winner with the LA Lakers - is set to prove invaluable and the man himself explained to GiveMeSport why his knowledge of the end game could prove so vital to the team's chances of success.
"I think to understand what it takes (to win the title) is really hard when you haven't been there before so what I try to do is share as much as I can with the guys," explained Gasol.
The 34-year-old center is the only man on the Bulls' current roster with Championship pedigree and his influential role isn't lost on him.
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"(I try to help) the guys to understand the importance of each and every game, and to make sure we pick up the right habits and do the right things on the floor," Gasol continued.
Learning from the Lakers
The Spaniard won back to back championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and believes it is the tough times that help create a title winning mentality.
"With the Lakers, it took us having a devastating loss in 2008 (they lost 2-4 in the Finals) to even win back to back championships."
"That experience is what pushed us and let us win the championships. It takes a little bit of time."
Bulls ups and downs
The Chicago Bulls, while not experiencing Finals heartache in recent times, have endured a roller coaster ride this campaign that has taken in the full range of emotions.
Welcoming back star man Derrick Rose, there was an air of positivity surrounding the famous franchise at the beginning of the season - additions like Gasol himself added to this.
At the turn of the year they were 25-10 and being tipped by many as NBA Final certainties.
Between January 3rd and February 4th however the Bulls went 5-10 as criticism of their key players, and particularly head coach Tom Thibodeau, reached fever pitch.
Now, heading into the All-Star break that will see Pau go up against his brother Marc, Gasol senior believes the Bulls must regain their composure and ride a wave of positivity through to season's end.
"I think we have the tools that we need and we have a lot of potential, but we need to get a more disciplined and committed mindset and edge to our game in order to be consistent. In order to be dominant. In order to be successful."
With Gasol, Rose, Joakim Noah and the rising star that is Jimmy Butler on their roster Chicago are certainly primed for a title run. They have been built to win now though and that is what their fans expect. Unfortunately for Pau Gasol, he might not be able to afford a "devastating loss" in the finals this time around to spur on future success. It feels like it is now or never, both for him and head coach Thibodeau.
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What do you think Bulls fans? Do you have what it takes to go all the way this season? How has Gasol adapted to life in Chicago, and what must change to find consistency as a team? Let us know in the comments section below...
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