Lakers officially retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey next to Kobe Bryant’s

By Gasol
Pau Gasol repeatedly honored Kobe Bryant on Tuesday night when his jersey was raised at the Arena. (Harry Howe/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers honored one of the franchise’s greatest centers on Tuesday night.

The Lakers officially sent Pau Gasol’s jersey number 16 to the rafters at the Arena at halftime against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol stepped into his seats after the first quarter, carrying his daughter, to a standing ovation.

The Lakers then displayed his jersey on the rafters next to two of Kobe Bryant’s jerseys during halftime.

Gasol was traded to the Lakers midway through the 2007-08 season by the Memphis Grizzlies, who made a deal to get him on draft night after the Atlanta Hawks selected the 7-footer from Spain with the third overall pick in 2001. of the year.

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 three consecutive seasons.

Gasol earned three of his six All-Star nominations before leaving the Lakers in 2014 to end his career elsewhere. He averaged 17 points and 9.2 rebounds as well as over 20,000 points and over 11,000 rebounds in 18 seasons in the league. Gasol was named a finalist to also be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame later in the year.

Pau Gasol reflects on career and friendship with Kobe Bryant

Gasol was very close to Bryant during their game together in Los Angeles and remained a friend 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 the Kobe Award and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award earlier this year.

Gasol reflected on his relationship with Bryant ahead of Tuesday night’s game.

“When you’re around a player or someone of the caliber who demands perfection from himself and everyone else, I think that’s what you need,” Gasol said of Bryant. “What I tried to do was complete him, give him as much as he needed and the team at the time. I had to develop as a player to get better, to become the second great player on our team. I have put my mind, effort and heart into this to make it happen. I think looking back, three finals in a row, it’s not easy.”

Gasol mentioned Bryant on the court after his jersey went up as well.

“I miss him so much, as do many of us,” Gasol said. “I love him, I wish he was here with Gigi, I really do. But I think he would be proud.”

Although it took several years, Gasol finally made it to the rafters, just as Bryant predicted after winning an Oscar in 2018.

“Pau, when he retires, his number will be on the rafters next to mine.” – Bryant said in 2018. “The reality is that I won’t win these championships without Pau. The city of Los Angeles can’t have these two championships without Pau Gasol… I really look forward to the day he gives his speech on center court to all the fans who have supported him over the years.”


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker