Former Spanish player Pau Gasol will be the eleventh player with retired Los Angeles Lakers jersey starting this Tuesday (early Wednesday morning in Spain), when the Los Angeles franchise hangs the ’16’ of Sant Boi de Llobregat at the top of the Crypto.com Arena -historic Staples Center-, next to the ‘8’ and ‘ 24’ of his ‘brother’ Kobe Bryant and along with the rest of the ‘gold and purple’ legends.
Some will say that six and a half seasons can’t give that much. That two rings are nothing to enter the annals of history. But the truth is that Pau Gasol Sáez, at 42, will see his figure honored by the Lakers he made, along with Kobe Bryant, two more NBA winners.
Without Pau Gasol, who arrived to cover the huge hole left by a Shaquille O’Neal whose ’34’ is also on the roof of the Los Angeles fiefdom, the Lakers would not have won the 2009 and 2010 championships, and he was close to putting three rings (it would have been the first, in 2008) on his gigantic hand, as big as a heart that conquered the fans of the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant’s footprint
The arrival of Gasol to the team rejuvenated a Kobe Bryant who couldn’t pull the car by himself. The Lakers, ousted and on a kind of journey through the Californian desert, found in Pau Gasol and in his natural connection with Kobe Bryant the path to success, towards those two rings that increased the record of the most successful franchise in the NBA.
For this reason, the sports team, but also because of his civic work and help to the Los Angeles community, because of how deeply he touched many of his teammates with the deceased Kobe Bryant in front –with a personal and family relationship beyond the courts–, for all this the Spanish center deserves to see his ’16’ at the top of the old Staples, without ever being used by any other player.
The Current Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, assured that the withdrawal of Pau Gasol’s ’16’ was not in doubt and that it was a matter of finding the right moment to do so. “It was not about giving a reason, but about choosing the moment, it was clear that we were going to do it,” he told the media.
The act of withdrawal will be in the early morning from Tuesday to Wednesday (at 4:00 a.m. in Spain), coinciding — without anything random on the part of the Lakers — with the visit of the Memphis Grizzlies to Los Angeles, Pau Gasol’s first team in the NBA.
Pau Gasol is the first Spanish player to have his shirt removed in the NBA, and only the seventh European player behind stars like the Serbian Drazen Petrovic, the first, the French Tony Parker or the German Dirk Nowitzki, the last to achieve it.
At the top of historic Staples, Now for reasons of Crypto.com Arena sponsorship, Pau Gasol will be eternal and will take care of the Lakers alongside George Mikan (number 99), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson ( 32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), James Worthy (42), Jamaal Wilkes (52), Shaquille O’Neal (34) and Kobe Bryant (8 and 24), the ‘older brother’ of Pau Gasol.