An amazing career deserves an amazing ending. Some players sputter out chasing glory long past. But every once in awhile, you get a class act who reads the direction of the wind and gets the swan song they so richly deserve. Take Pau Gasol for example.
Pau Gasol’s Career
Gasol is a veteran power forward who’s been in the NBA for 19 years, playing most notably for the Lakers. Gasol was known for his incredible synergy with Kobe Bryant. Part of the fabled Lakers team of the late 2000s, he won back to back NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. In 19 seasons, Gasol averaged 17 points, three assists, and a staggering nine rebounds per game.
Gasol is also a worldwide force. Born and raised in Barcelona, Gasol began playing professional basketball in the Spanish ABC league at just 16 years old before entering the NBA draft in 2001. In fact, Gasol is something of a hero back in Barcelona. Many consider him the greatest Spanish basketball player ever — a fact three Olympic medals can attest to.
Life after the Lakers
In 2014, Gasol and the Lakers parted ways on good terms. He’d just entered free agency. Given the Lakers star-studded lineup, his contract price was too steep. Gasol’s next stop was the Bulls, a team he felt would challenge him to be better. Despite more than adequate numbers, he would only spend a total of two seasons with the Bulls before moving on in search of new challenge.
Gasol made stops in San Antonio, Milwaukee, and as of the truncated 2019-2020 season, he was officially a Portland trail Blazer without ever having played a game. Throughout his travels his consistency has never wavered.
After his stint with the Lakers, Gasol put up some of the best numbers of his career as well as becoming the second-oldest player in NBA history, at 35 years old, to record a triple-double. With San Antonio he recorded a career-high game of 21 points and 6 assists in 2016.
However, the last few seasons of his career have been marred by injuries, including an elbow to the face from Javale McGee, and multiple foot problems stemming from a broken ankle. Which begs the question, what’s next for Gasol?
One last dance for Gasol?
Gasol would be lying if he didn’t say retirement has been on his mind, reports CBS Sports. After all, continual foot problems, including a stress fracture that took him out during the 2019 season, plague the athlete. Going forward, everything is contingent on how that stress fracture heals.
The way Gasol sees it there’s really only three options, two of which might be pure fantasy. Option No. 1 is retirement. Given the status of his injury, that very well might be the only option left to him. But Gasol has also said he wants one more season before he packs it in. If he could pick any team he would choose one of two options: a return to the LA Lakers or one more season back in Europe playing for Barcelona. Both have merits.
The Lakers the option is full of nostalgia and challenge. He might not be the dominant forward he once was, but he could add decent depth to the current roster.
Barcelona might be the safer option, however. Gasol’s home country reveres him. Just an appearance on a Barcelona team, even if that appearance involves riding the bench, would provide him with a sense of closure and validation at the end of a long and storied career.