Throughout his two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers, former star guard Kobe Bryant established himself as one of the greatest players in league history. Although much of that came from his production and talent, it occurred with much-needed help along the way. Bryant had several notable teammates that were key to elevating the Lakers to tremendous success over the bulk of his career. That saw him earn some great respect and admiration from one of his teammates that helped shape the second half of his illustrious career.
Kobe Bryant wanted Pau Gasol’s Jersey retired by Lakers
During the second half of Bryant‘s career, he got back onto the path of contending for NBA titles after a rough patch without fellow Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal. Much of that changed after the Lakers made the blockbuster deal to acquire star big man Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol played a pivotal part in helping guide the Lakers to a pair of NBA titles, which helped further cemented Bryant’s legacy. It’s something that he much appreciated and valued the talent that his teammate had he voiced back in 2018 that he believed Gasol should result in his jersey being retired. (H/T Essentially Sports)
“There’s no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine,” he said.
“The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of L.A. doesn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol. We know that, everybody knows that, and I really look forward to the day that he’s there giving his speech at center court in front of all of the fans that have supported him over the years. It’s going to be an awesome night.”
Bryant had a healthy respect for what Gasol brought to the table and what he meant to the franchise during his tenure.
Does Pau Gasol deserve that honor?
Since the Lakers Bryant’s jersey in December 2017, the topic of discussion has shifted over to Gasol’s legacy with the franchise.
Although he didn’t spend his entire career with the franchise, Gasol put forth some highly productive campaigns. Beyond being a pivotal piece of two NBA title teams, he played some of his best basketball with the franchise.
Gasol spent 6 1/2 seasons with the franchise where he averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 52.2% shooting from the floor. During that span, three All-Star selections, two All-NBA Second Team nomination, and an All-NBA Third Team nod. Gasol was a model for consistency with his production while he continued to be a consummate professional through it all that included lingering trade rumors.
His entire tenure may not have featured great success, but Gasol was a crucial factor in helping the franchise get back to relevancy that forever engrained his legacy with the team behind a pair of NBA titles.
How does Pau Gasol feel about it?
With Gasol’s career nearing its end, the conversation has heated up once again around a potential jersey retirement.
The former All-Star big man was recently asked about that scenario by Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints to which he voiced a great appreciation if that honor was presented to him.
“It will be an honor if it does happen,” Gasol said of his potential jersey retirement. “It would be a privilege to be in that group. It means a lot to me that the fans would like to see that. It will be beyond my dreams to be able to experience that.”
Gasol may not have the resume as many of the other players that have their jerseys retired by the Lakers. However, he had some of his best years with the franchise highlighted by a pair of NBA titles. Beyond that, Gasol further cemented during that time what eventually be a Hall of Fame induction.