Pau Gasol already part of the Olympus of legends of los angeles lakers, that in the early hours of this Tuesday they dedicated a beautiful tribute to him for remove his shirt with the number 16 and place it in the upper part of the stadium along with that of other legends, such as that of his great friend, Kobe Bryant. The two teamed up to reach three straight NBA Finals and win two championships after the Catalan joined the Angelenos in 2008.
During the break in the match between the Lakers and the Grizzlies, the team in which the former player played his first seven seasons and in which he made his debut at the age of 21 in the American league, his shirt has been raised on top of the Crypto Arena.
The ceremony lasted 15 minutes and Gasol gave a speech looking up at the sky to remember Bryant, with whom he shared a dressing room for almost seven years and forged a great friendship off the track, and to whom he has promised to be “proud to belong to your family”.
The pavilion has cheered the name of the mythical ’24’, who died in January 2020 in a helicopter accident with his daughter, and has recognized the career of the Spanish player. “It has been an immense honor, I have enjoyed a lot”has said about his time with the Lakers.
His ’16’ joins in this way an illustrious and very exclusive list of retired numbers that includes heroes of the Lakers like ‘Magic’ Johnson’s ’32’, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s ’33’, Shaquille O’Neal’s ’34’ or Jerry West’s ’44’.
“Just to be in this very select and exceptional group of players and legends of this sport and this franchise it is a great recognition. It’s hard to name it,” he said.
Gasol, 42, has been overwhelmed by memories of his time in Los Angeles, saying he believes his long and successful career helped erase the stereotype of the “soft” European player, noting that he can now be seen as three Europeans are the three best players in the league: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic.
“All I can say is thank you”
A visibly moved Pau Gasol appeared before the media before his tribute to thank everyone those who have accompanied him on this great journey. “It’s amazing. All I can say is thank you,” noted hours before the ceremony.
With his two championship rings with the Lakers on his fingers, and already in the Crypto Arena, the Spanish He was moved by the “many memories” what about this place. “There have been many times walking down these halls as a player, many special nights in this venue. I feel like I’m still in my 30s, but I’m not anymore,” he joked.
“It’s lovely. I am very lucky to have enjoyed such a special chapter playing basketball and the NBA (…). Tonight with the expectation, the emotion, the honor that I am going to receive. It’s so big for me. It’s really hard to process“, he acknowledged.
Gasol defined himself as “a fairly stable and restrained person” but assured that the emotions he feels are “foreign” and “very strong.” “There’s so much going on inside that it is difficult to move them, contain them, want to let them flow… That’s why you see me doing a bit of a tightrope walk (…). It even gives you vertigo and surpasses you“, he described.
The athlete acknowledged that his career went by “in the blink of an eye” and that the boy who was “playing basketball at school” with his friends “suddenly” found himself competing in the NBA and for “the biggest franchise in basketball.”
And he concluded by assuring that “tonight truly exceeds any dream or expectation that you have had It means so much…”
Words for Bryant
Gasol too wanted to remember Kobe Bryantwith whom he formed an extraordinary alliance on and off the field and whose absence weighs on him especially: “It is significant, powerful, sad, happy, painful. There are many things,” he indicated about his mixed feelings.
“Definitely he inspired me and showed me what it takes to be the best player what can you be The work ethic, the dedication, the mindset… It challenged me to be better,” she explained.