After a 19-year NBA career and several more in the EuroLeague, Pau Gasol has announced his retirement from basketball at 41-years-old. The announcement by the 7-foot-1 center/forward has been expected ever since he scheduled a press conference but the decision is now official.
Gasol had a long and storied career. He won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and was a six-time NBA All-Star. He was the 3rd overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2001 NBA Draft but was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. He went on to have seven successful seasons with the Grizzlies before getting traded to the Lakers.
Over his career, he also spent time with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks before deciding to return to FC Barcelona to finish up his storied career. He averaged 17.0 points over his 19 NBA seasons and 9.2 rebounds. Considering his contributions in the NBA and overseas, there’s no doubt Gasol will end up in the Hall of Fame when he’s eligible.
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Gasol Helped Saved the Lakers
Though Gasol spent time with several NBA teams, he’ll be most remembered as a Laker. Back in 2007, the team was a mess and Kobe Bryant had requested a trade due to their incompetence on the court. The Lakers refused to trade the superstar and ended up landing Gasol in a trade with the Grizzlies. It was a move that may have saved the franchise.
The Lakers had not gotten past the first round of the playoffs in three straight seasons. In Gasol’s first season with the team, they made it to the NBA Finals but lost to the Boston Celtics. After that loss, the Lakers went on to win back-to-back championships. Gasol made three All-Star teams while in Los Angeles and was without a doubt one of the best big men in the NBA during that time.
Lakers to Retire Gasol’s Number
While Bryant was the best player on those championship teams, Los Angeles wouldn’t have won them without Gasol. The Lakers have many numbers retired in their rafters and he deserves to have his No. 16 jersey hanging up in Staples Center. The team was quick to make the decision to retire his jersey, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
Kobe Bryant would certainly approve of this decision.
“There is no debate. When he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next month,” Bryant told journalist Antonio Martin in 2018. “The reality is I wouldn’t win those two championships without Pau. L.A. wouldn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol. We know that. Everybody knows that. I really look forward to the day when he is there giving his speech at the center of the court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years. It’s going to be an awesome night.”
Fans React to Gasol Retirement
There are few players that are as beloved by the Lakers fans as Gasol. As noted earlier, he saved the team during one of their lowest times. The Lakers made sure to send the former All-Star a message after the retirement announcement.
Fans and reporters who have covered the team sent fond farewells to Gasol.
Gasol should be back in Los Angeles in the near future for what should be a memorable jersey retirement ceremony.