world basketball

NBA champion, Olympic medalist Pau Gasol retires

JR Isaga
NBA champion, Olympic medalist Pau Gasol retires

LEGEND. Pau Gasol retires from the sport as a global basketball icon.

Albert Gea/Reuters

Pau Gasol hangs up his spurs after a decorated 23-year career highlighted by two NBA championships and three Olympic medals

Basketball legend Pau Gasol has officially announced his retirement from competition in an emotional press conference on Tuesday, October 5.

The 7-foot-1 Gasol, now 41, was the No. 3 overall selection of the 2001 NBA Draft.

“It’s a difficult decision after so many years,” Gasol said at the news conference, “but it’s a decision that I really thought over.”

The six-time All-Star had been out of the NBA since March 2019, when he underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot. He signed with the Portland Trail Blazers as a free agent the following offseason but never played for the team, instead opting to continue to rehabilitate the injury.

Gasol played the remainder of the 2020-2021 Liga ACB season with Barcelona while preparing to play for Spain at the Tokyo Olympics.

“Not many doctors thought I’d be able to recover but I’m a person who likes challenges and I wanted to fight to do the improbable,” he said.

“I got to the point where I was relaxed about my career ending, I was at peace. But when things went well I took the decision to sign for Barcelona which wasn’t in my plans. But I managed to win the league with the club where it all began and where I made my debut. It’s been very special.”

Gasol enjoyed a successful 23-year career, beginning in 1998, and ending this year with FC Barcelona in the EuroLeague.

Away from the pro leagues, Gasol is also an accomplished national team player for Spain with two Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012, and a 2016 bronze to his name.

Although his NBA tenure was already respectable just off his time with the Memphis Grizzlies from 2001 to 2008, his star status fully peaked after he got traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that included his brother Marc, who in turn revitalized the Grizzlies franchise in his stead.

Playing alongside the late great Kobe Bryant, Gasol excelled as the perfect complementary star, and together, they pushed the Lakers to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

Gasol also paid tribute to Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident in January 2020.

“I’d have liked him to have been here today but sometimes life is unfair,” Gasol added.

“He taught me to a better competitor, a real winner, I considered him like an older brother.”

After a few more years in Los Angeles trying to win more titles, Gasol tried his luck elsewhere starting in 2014, and spent the twilight of his career as a valued veteran with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and Milwaukee Bucks, before returning home to FC Barcelona.

In his 17-year NBA career, Gasol finished with six All-Star appearances, two All-NBA Second Team selections, and steady averages of 17 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks in 1226 regular season games.

Gasol is one of just four NBA players to record more than 20,000 points, 11,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks in a career, joining Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and 2020 Hall of Fame inductees Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.

While he has hung up his sneakers for good, his work in sports will continue after he was selected as a representative of Spain in the International Olympic Committee last August. โ€“ Rappler.com