Pau Gasol closed the door on his basketball career after announcing his retirement. Gasol is on track to one day land him in the Hall of Fame. Before he receives that well-deserved honor, the Los Angeles Lakers are giving him the perfect retirement gift that Kobe Bryant predicted years ago.
Pau Gasol announces retirement after 18 seasons
After a highly successful brief stint with the FC Barcelona team, Gasol has spent the last couple of months determining his basketball future.
On Tuesday, the 41-year-old came to an official decision, announcing his retirement after 19 seasons, bringing a close to his impressive career.
“I’m going to retire from professional basketball,” Gasol said via ESPN. “It’s a difficult decision after so many years, but it’s a decision that I really thought over.”
Gasol put together a well-decorated NBA career spent playing with the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and Milwaukee Bucks. He became one of the league’s top big men behind his scoring and passing ability.
Gasol earned two NBA titles and six All-Star selections, received two All-NBA Second Team nominations and two All-NBA Third Team nods. He was the first non-American player to secure the Rookie of the Year award.
He excelled in international competition, earning a pair of FIBA Europe Player of the Year honors and two FIBA EuroBasket MVP awards, and led to silver medals in the Summer Olympics and a gold medal in the 2006 Japan World Cup.
His impressive basketball career will one day earn him an induction in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, but before he reaches that point, the Lakers are bestowing a well-deserved honor upon him that Kobe Bryant predicted.
Lakers are honoring Pau Gasol with the perfect retirement gift Kobe Bryant once predicted
As Gasol heads into retirement, it shines recognition toward his NBA legacy.
It’s placed the limelight toward his time with the Lakers, where he experienced his greatest success. His arrival to Los Angeles transfomed the franchise into a championship-caliber team behind a pair of NBA titles in three Finals appearances.
In his 6 1/2 seasons with the Lakers, he averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 blocks while shooting 52.2% from the floor. It featured earning three All-Star selections and two All-NBA Second Team nomination, and receiving an All-NBA Third Team nod. The star big man became an anchor alongside Bryant, leading the franchise to championship success.
All those factors unsurprisingly guided the Lakers to move forward with the plans to retire his No. 16 jersey with the franchise. It’s a huge honor that Bryant predicted years ago for his longtime teammate.
“There’s no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine,” Bryant said in February 2018. “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.”
Gasol’s impact on the Lakers doesn’t receive enough significance as his acquisition immediately pushed the franchise into title contention. Los Angeles reached three straight NBA Finals with him and Bryant leading the charge while earning six playoff appearances.
He accomplished more than enough to have his jersey hanging in the rafters with other all-time greats in team history.
Lakers legacy sits forever cemented
The honor of having his jersey retired underlines his importance to the Lakers.
Gasol demonstrated all the invaluable qualities on and off the court to earn this tremendous honor, especially in Los Angeles. His performance played a pivotal part in helping guide the franchise to a pair of NBA titles, while his professionalism and class meant much more to the organization and fans.
The 41-year-old is receiving a much-deserved recognition that only further cements his legacy in a Lakers’ uniform.