Two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce his retirement from basketball. The 19-year NBA veteran had an illustrious career spanning two continents. He started the first four years of his professional career playing for FC Barcelona in Spain, before making the jump to the NBA and being selected No. 3 overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks and then being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies on draft night.
Before even entering the league, Gasol already had multiple championships to his name, having won two Spanish League championships and being named Spanish League finals MVP. Once he got to the NBA, his success only continued. In his first year in the league, he won Rookie of the Year, averaging 17.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 blocks per game. Over the following five years with the Grizzlies, Gasol was named an All-Star once and averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
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Yet it was his time with the Los Angeles Lakers that was most memorable. Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008 for a package deal that included his younger brother Marc Gasol, who ended up having similar success in Memphis. Once with the Lakers, Pau made three All-Star appearances, averaged 17.8 points, 9.8 rebounds 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks a game.
He was also one half of one of the most potent offensive duos in the league alongside the late Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant. Together Gasol and Bryant made three trips to the NBA Finals, winning twice in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010. Gasol’s impact on the Lakers was felt immediately after he was traded to L.A., helping them get back to the Finals just a few months after joining the team. The following season, once Gasol was fully acclimated into the Lakers’ system, he and Bryant put together a 65-win season in L.A. en route to a title.
Gasol helped bridge the gap between the Kobe-Shaq era, and was an integral piece in the Lakers system for years. Due to his importance with the franchise, the Lakers are planning on retiring Gasol’s No. 16 jersey, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Aside from the Lakers, Gasol also spent time playing for the Chicago Bulls — where he garnered All-Star honors twice — the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, but his tenure with the Lakers was by far the peak of his time in the NBA. Toward the end of his career, foot injuries began to trouble the versatile big man, and his final year in the NBA came with the Bucks during the 2018-19 campaign. He then decided to return to play for FC Barcelona this past year, where the team won the Liga ACB title.
Now that his playing career is wrapped up, Gasol should be a no-brainer to make the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when he’s eligible.