Around the NBA, on the anniversary of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s death, a variety of tributes in media conferences, before games and on social media have come pouring in. But perhaps none has been so poignant and personal as what Pau Gasol posted on Tuesday afternoon.
Gasol joined the Lakers in 2008 and, with Bryant, helped the team to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, including two championships.
The text of Gasol’s tweet was, simply: “I miss you, hermano.”
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Gasol also posted a photo of Bryant with his daughter, Gianna, on his shoulders, as well as two photos of Gasol and Bryant on the court together. Gianna Bryant also died in the helicopter crash that killed Bryant a year ago, along with seven others.
Gasol added some text, including, “Not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do. Your spirit, your drives, your ambition, your love … continues to shine in my life and in many others.”
Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant Had Close, Intense Relationship
During their six-plus years together, Bryant frequently needled Gasol, whom he felt needed to get tougher.
Once, in 2012, Bryant publicly called out Gasol during a poor Lakers start by saying, “Put your big-boy pants on. Just adjust. Just adjust. You can’t whine about it. You can’t complain about it.”
In 2013, while Bryant was immobilized as he recovered from a ruptured Achilles tendon, he phoned Lakers trainer Gary Vitti at halftime of a game and asked to speak to Gasol, imploring Gasol to be more aggressive.
Last year, Gasol revealed that after the 2008 Olympics, in which Bryant and Team USA won a gold medal at the expense of Gasol’s Spanish team, he arrived back at training camp to find something from Bryant in his locker—his gold medal. The Lakers had lost the Finals that season to the Lakers and Gasol said Bryant’s message was this: “No more losing. You cannot allow yourself to lose.”
But Gasol always maintained that Bryant was hard on him as a way to push him, and it only pulled their bond closer together.
Pau Gasol Honored Gianna Bryant With Daughter’s Middle Name
In September, Gasol’s wife gave birth to a baby girl, and named her Elisabet Gianna, after Bryant’s late daughter.
Here’s the full text of what Gasol wrote on Tuesday:
Not a day goes by that you are not present in what I do. Your spirit, your drives, your ambition, your love … continues to shine in my life and in many others. Photos, videos, very special moments keep being shared by countless people that have admired you and loved you in their own way, reminding me how incredibly lucky I have been to share some of those moments with you.
I hope you and Gigi are smiling down seeing how strong, sweet and amazing your girls are … they are growing so fast brother.
I wish you could’ve met our little Elisabet Gianna. We will make sure she knows where her middle name comes from … how extraordinary, loving and inspiring her cousin Gig and her uncle Kobe were.
Today, we honor and celebrate both of you, you have left us with so much… but even if it isn’t how we would like things to be, you are, and always will be, in our hearts.