Skip to main content
Original Issue


Last week the Lakers' Pau Gasol and the Clippers' Chris Paul got into a kerfuffle, which the Spaniard attempted to defuse with a pat on Paul's head. Paul took exception and returned the gesture with significantly more impact, creating the latest cross-cultural sports misunderstanding. Anyone who watches European soccer knows that head pats are a part of the lingua franca, even if they don't always fly Stateside. Last year the Red Bulls' Thierry Henry—a vet of England and Spain—drew a straight red card after patting an opponent's head. Henry was aghast; "inexplicable," proclaimed G.M. Erik Soler. Then again, Henry (a Frenchman), Soler (a Norwegian) and team owner Red Bull (an Austrian company) are all from Europe.