The Los Angeles Lakers honored one of the greatest franchises of all time on Tuesday night.
The Lakers officially retired Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey to the rafters at Crypto.com Arena at the end of the first half of their game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol walked out to his seats after the first quarter, carrying his daughter, and received a standing ovation.
The Lakers then revealed their jerseys in the rafters next to Kobe Bryant’s jerseys during the first half.
Gasol was traded to the Lakers midway through the 2007-08 season by the Memphis Grizzlies, who made a deal for a touchdown on draft night after the 7-footer Atlanta Hawks selected Spain with the No. 3 overall pick in 2001.
Gasol spent the next six seasons in Los Angeles, where he and Bryant won back-to-back NBA titles in 2009 and 2010 and reached the Finals in three straight seasons.
Gasol earned three out of six All-Star nods before leaving the Lakers in 2014 to finish his career elsewhere. He averaged 17 points and 9.2 rebounds, scored over 20,000 points and grabbed over 11,000 rebounds in his 18 seasons in the league. Gasol was named a finalist to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame later in the year as well.
Pau Gasol reflects on his career and friendship with Kobe Bryant
Gasol was very close to Bryant while they played together in Los Angeles and they remained friends until Bryant died in a helicopter crash in 2020. Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, who was on the court with Gasol on Tuesday night, even presented Gasol with a Kobe & Gigi award. Bryant WNBA from the WNBA earlier this year.
Gasol spoke about his relationship with Bryant before the game on Tuesday night.
Gasol said of Bryant: “When you’re around a player or someone of that caliber who requires excellence for himself and for everybody, I think that’s something you want to be around. What I tried to do was complete him, give everything he and the team needed at that time. I had to improve.” “As a player to be better in order to be the second-biggest player on our team. I put my mind, my effort and my heart into doing that. I think, looking back, three Finals in a row, it’s not easy to do.”
Gasol mentioned Bryant on the field after also raising his jersey.
“I miss him so much, like so many of us,” said Gasol. “I love him, I wish he was here with Gigi, I really love him. But I think he would be proud.”
While it took a few years, Gasol has finally hit the rafters just as Bryant predicted after winning the Academy Award in 2018.
“Pao, when he retires, he’ll have his number in the rafters next to mine,” Bryant said said in 2018. “The truth is, I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of L.A. doesn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol… I really look forward to the day when he gives his speech on center court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years.”
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”