Gasol took the comment as a compliment to both players.
"There's no question he's more athletic than me, than I've ever been," Gasol said.
Gasol understands better than most how Bryant works on and off the court. The two share a close professional relationship, and Gasol has called leaving Bryant and the Lakers for the Bulls the hardest decision of his pro career.
"I take pride in our friendship," Gasol said. "We've been through so much and accomplished great things together. But we also went through some tough times as well. So our bond and friendship has always prevailed. That's something we always will have.
"We respect each other. We understand the game. We're both competitors. And we complement each other very well. We have high IQs playing the game and just connected from the beginning."
Remember me? Former Bulls first-round pick James Johnson, whom management traded to the Raptors for a first-round pick that proved instrumental in landing Nikola Mirotic, is thriving off the bench in his second stint in Toronto.
"Maturity," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of the difference. "When he was here before, I don't know if he was ready to be coached. He had a high opinion of himself. Now he's more humble and accepting of his role."
Layups: This week's misspellings of Andre Drummond as "Drummund" and Paul Millsap as "Milsap" on uniforms recalled the time longtime Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski pranked Joakim Noah before his first exhibition in October 2007 with "Noha" on his jersey. … Noah, on Gasol scouting the Raptors-76ers game during the team flight: "I wouldn't watch that (crap)."