LOS ANGELES – Pau Gasol, the perfect complement to Kobe Bryant, was given the best possible compliment by his former team: The lakers Retired his jersey.
“I mean life moves very fast, doesn’t it? In the blink of an eye, you can be a kid playing basketball with your friends at your school, then all of a sudden, you’re making your dream come true,” Gasol First said Lakers’ 112-103 win Above memphis grizzlies on Tuesday night. “But tonight, it really exceeds any of my dreams or expectations because it means so much. And obviously with Kobe, it just adds up to something meaningful and powerful, and sad and happy, and painful and joyous.” .
“It’s a lot of things.”
It was a full-circle kind of night for Gasol, who was honored by the Lakers on a night when they were playing the team that traded him to Los Angeles. His younger brother Mark, who was part of a trade going the opposite direction from Los Angeles to Memphis, was in attendance to boot.
A black veil was lowered during the halftime ceremony, revealing Gasol’s No. 16 placed in the rafters next to Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24.
Gasol addressed the crowd at center court during a break between the second and third quarters, accompanied by his parents, brothers, wife and children, as well as Lakers governor Jenny Buss, Lakers vice president and general manager of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and Vanessa Bryant was also present. , making her first public appearance at the Crypto.com Arena since her late husband’s memorial service.
When asked about Bryant, Gasol said, “I miss him a lot.” “I can’t do anything about it but for the love of his family. That’s how I deal with it.”
Vanessa Bryant began the halftime tribute with a recorded message shown on the videoboard, saying, “Pau was special to Kobe, as a teammate, as a man, as a friend.” in the form of.”
He then tossed a video recorded of Kobe Bryant at the Academy Awards in 2018 making the case for Gasol being honored by the Lakers.
“There’s no debate,” Bryant said in the video. “Pau, when he retires, he’ll have his number in the rafters next to me. The reality is, I wouldn’t have won those championships without Pau. LA City doesn’t have those two championships without Pau. We know that every Somebody knows it. And I’m really looking forward to the day he gives his speech on Center Court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years. And so, it’s going to be a great night.
When Gasol took the microphone, he opened by thanking Vanessa.
“I love you, sister,” he said. “I am proud to be your brother. I am proud to be the uncle of your lovely girls.”
He continued his speech by honoring his late colleague.
Gasol said, “I cannot live without talking about the person and the face that I do not see.” “The brother who lifted me up, challenged me, pushed me to be a better player. Overall a better person.”
He “Ko-Bee! Ko-Bee! Ko-Bee!” Japa Akhara Bhasma.
“I miss him. I miss him like many of us do,” Gasol said. “I love him. I wish he was here with Gigi. I really do. But I think he’d be proud. And he’s been waiting for this moment. So, I love you, bro.” “
With Gasol’s arrival in February 2008, the Lakers made it to three straight NBA Finals, winning back-to-back championships in 2009. Orlando Magic and 2010 on their longtime rivals, Boston Celtics,
“Kobe welcomes you and says, ‘Let’s go out there and win us a ring,'” Gasol recalled during his pregame remarks. “And I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m in.’
He won two, and Gasol wore them both Tuesday night — one on each hand.
After a video tribute during the second quarter, Gasol was treated to a prolonged standing ovation by the crowd, patting his chest with one hand while holding his 2-year-old daughter Elisabetta Gianna Was. Their daughter was named in honor of Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, who was one of the victims of the January 2020 helicopter crash that also killed her father and seven other people.
Gasol, who was the second Spaniard to play in the NBA and the first to appear in the Finals, was greeted by many of his Spanish national team teammates and countrymen, including José Calderón, Juan Carlos Navarro, Felipe Reyes and Juancho Hernángómez.
Several former Lakers came into the game, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujicic, Metta Sandyford-Artest, Jordan Farmer, Josh Powell, James Worthy and longtime trainer Gary Vitti. Miami Heat star Jimmy Butlerwho played with gasol Chicago Bullswere also present.
Phil Jackson, who coached Gasol for four of the six seasons he played in Los Angeles, made a rare appearance at the arena, watching the game from a suite.
“Phil, you’re one of a kind,” Gasol said. “You know what, we all know it. I love you. Thank you for encouraging your players to read. Thank you for introducing us to mindfulness. I love you to death.”
Jackson, Fischer, Sandyford-Artest and Vujacic recorded video messages for Gasol that were shown on video screens during the first half.
Gasol was the 12th player in franchise history to join a long line of legendary big men from George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal.
“I think the common denominator is that I provided something valuable to the team to help the team win,” Gasol said. “I would not dare to compare myself with those great players. I have a lot of respect and honor. One of the reasons why I am there is because I helped the team significantly in winning those championships. [If] Had we not won those championships, we would not be sitting here.”
The 2023 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame finalist ended his time with a message for the future.
Gasol said, “Much is expected of those to whom much is given, and I will continue to dedicate my life to impacting others, making a difference, inspiring and helping others.” “For making this world a healthier and better place. I love you all.”