The likely end of the Olympic road for three Hispanic basketball greats
As the Olympic Basketball tournament reaches its final four teams, it's likely that Spain’s Gasol brothers and Argentina’s Luis Scola have played their final Olympic games.
As Team USA prepares to face Team France in the gold medal game, and Slovenia and Australia compete for bronze, this year’s Olympics marks the likely end of Olympics journeys for three basketball greats.
Team Spain lost to Team USA 95-81 in the quarterfinals of the basketball tournament on Aug. 3. That loss eliminated Spain and broke a streak of three consecutive Olympic appearances with a medal finish, as the team won a silver medal in 2008 and 2012, and a bronze in 2016.
The two eldest statesmen of that Spanish team are brothers Pau and Marc Gasol. At ages 41 and 36, respectively, it is likely that the two have played their final Olympic games.
For Pau, in addition to his three Olympic medals, he also carved out an impressive résumé for himself throughout his 18-year NBA career. His accomplishments included winning two NBA championships, being named an All-Star six times, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and making four All-NBA Teams.
Marc, has also carved out a nice résumé himself. In addition to his two Olympic silver medals, Marc was named to three All-Star teams, two All-NBA Teams, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and an NBA championship.
His NBA championship win in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors marked the first time in NBA history that two brothers each won an NBA championship in the course of their careers.
Marc is expected to return to play his 14th NBA season this upcoming season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, Pau is contemplating whether to continue playing for FC Barcelona, with whom he signed in February after attempts to make a return to the NBA.
Both brothers can stake their claim as two of the most decorated basketball players to come out of Spain.
The same can be said for Luis Scola of Argentina, who fell to Australia in the tournament quarterfinal 97-59. While his NBA career didn’t last as long (10 seasons), and his accolades in the NBA aren’t as plentiful as the Gasol brothers, he has established himself as one of the Olympics’ and Argentina’s national team’s most important basketball players.
His greatest accomplishment was scoring 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds in the gold medal game against Italy in the 2004 Athens Olympics. His performance helped lead Argentina to becoming the first and, to date, only, Hispanic nation to win an Olympic gold medal in basketball.
He also won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Since leaving the NBA in 2017, Scola, now 41, has played internationally in China and Italy, continuing to play solid basketball even at his relatively advanced age.
The success the Gasol brothers and Scola have obtained in international competition, the Olympics and the NBA are all impressive in their own rights.
When the 2024 Paris Olympics rolls around, it is unlikely that any of the three will participate, given their ages and the influx of a new generation of talented and skilled international basketball players.
Nonetheless, if all three decide to retire from Olympic and international competition as expected, they will go down as three of the most impactful and important basketball figures to ever come out of the Spanish-speaking world.