NBA

Lakers retire two-time champion Pau Gasol's jersey

By Sports Desk March 07, 2023

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to honour two-time champion and six-time All-Star Pau Gasol by retiring his number 16 jersey during half-time of Tuesday's home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol, who retired from the NBA following the 2018-19 campaign, spent seven of his 18 seasons with the Lakers after being acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade at the 2008 deadline.

Having been named the 2002 Rookie of the Year, the seven-foot Spaniard made his first All-Star team in 2006 after averaging 20.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, but he would not make another until arriving in LA.

After Gasol's arrival, the Lakers went from a first-round exit in 2007 all the way to the NBA Finals, falling short against historic rivals the Boston Celtics in six games.

With a training camp under their belt and in his first full season alongside Kobe Bryant, Gasol helped the Lakers win their 15th championship, and Bryant's fourth. He averaged 40.5 minutes and shot 58 per cent from the field for his 18.3 points and 10.8 rebounds in 23 playoff games.

The Lakers then went back-to-back in the 2009-10 season, when Gasol was the most valuable player on the floor during their Game 7 victory against the Celtics, finishing with 19 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in a game where Bryant had 23 points and 15 rebounds, but shot six-of-24 from the field.

He was named an All-Star in both championship seasons, and again in 2010-11, and then spent three more years with the Lakers until heading to the Chicago Bulls, where he would make two more All-Star Games.

Prior to the ceremony, Gasol spoke to the media about the honour of having his number go up in the rafters alongside Bryant.

"I think I’ve done as good as I could to really embrace it and savour it, but tonight really exceeds any dream or expectation that I’ve had," he said. "Obviously with Kobe up there, it just adds something meaningful, and powerful, and sad, and happy, and painful, and joyful. It’s a lot of things.

"The excitement, the anticipation, the honour received, it’s just so big that it's been hard to really take it in.

"I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a celebration. It's great. It's lovely. It's just great that you can experience this in your life."

Gasol was also an incredibly decorated international competitor, finishing as the highest scoring player at the 2004 Olympics, before guiding Spain to their first ever FIBA World Championship in 2006, where he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

He is also the all-time leading scorer in EuroBasket competition, overtaking Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker with 1,183 points scored in 58 games at an average of 20.4.

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