Pau Gasol officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
The Spanish-born basketball player played 18 years in the NBA, winning two championships. He also won three Olympic medals — two silver, and a bronze.
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As Pau Gasol stood on the podium at the 2023 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, he took in the reality of it all, seeing the culmination of his two-decade-long career place him into the Hall of Fame.
He thanked the many individuals who has helped him along the way.
One name, one individual in particular, that Gasol has always praised is one of his many former teammates, the late Philadelphia native and Los Angeles Laker legend Kobe Bryant.
In Gasol’s words, Bryant was “the person who elevated my game like no other, who taught me what it took to win at the highest level, who showed me how hard you had to work, and the mentality you needed to have in order to be the best.”
Gasol played for six different teams over 18 seasons in the NBA, but it was with the Lakers that he found his greatest team success.
On Feb. 1, 2008, Gasol highlighted a brief conversation he had with Bryant — the night Gasol was traded to the Lakers from the Memphis Grizzlies. ‘
Immediately, the two discussed the task at hand — winning a championship together.
Just four months later, Gasol, Bryant and Lakers found themselves in the NBA Finals. While they fell short in that series against the Boston Celtics 4-2, the Lakers would go on to win the NBA Championship in each of the next two years, including avenging their 2008 NBA Finals loss against the Celtics and beating them to win the 2010 NBA Finals.
Gasol won many accolades throughout his 18-year NBA career. However, he reached the precipice of NBA success as a back-to-back NBA Championship.
In addition to his NBA championship rings, Gasol made 6 NBA All-Star appearances, four All-NBA selections, and won the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year.
During NBA offseasons, Gasol carved out an impressive list of accolades during both his international and Olympic careers, as well.
He won a gold medal in the 2006 World Cup, and then went on to win three additional gold medals in the European Basketball Championship games in 2009, 2011, and 2015.
During his Olympic career, Gasol won a silver medal in both the 2008 and 2012 games, and a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics.
Upon his official retirement from his playing career in 2021, he officially closed the book on inarguably the most accomplished professional basketball player to ever come out of Spain.
In correlation to the Olympics, during his Hall of Fame induction speech, Gasol credited the 1992 Olympics Games in Spain for leading him toward his love for the game of basketball.
“I was 12. It changed my life. The Dream Team showed us how basketball could be played; it made me dream of playing at that level, playing with the best of the best,” he said.
From that point on, Gasol dedicated his life to the sport and more than 30 years later, he is able to look back and see that it was worth it to now become an inductee of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.