Pau Gasol joins Lakers’ lore, as No. 16 jersey gets raised to the rafters
The Spanish-born basketball player played six seasons with the team, winning two NBA championships. He now joins the list of greats to have jerseys retired.
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Throughout NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers have established themselves as one of the two most decorated franchises in the league.
Tied with the Boston Celtics for most championships at 17, the Lakers have had countless all-time greats and Hall of Fame players don “the purple and gold.”
Congruently, a number of these same players have seen their jersey numbers retired in the rafters of the Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as The Staples Center).
Last night, another player was added to that list as Pau Gasol watched his No. 16 jersey get raised and unveiled in the rafters, becoming the 12th player to have his jersey number retired by the franchise.
His No. 16 jersey now hangs alongside Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 jersey, the second of two jerseys (along with No. 8) the late Lakers legend was able to see get retired.
Prior to the jersey retirement ceremony, Gasol reflected on the impact Bryant had on his career once they became teammates.
“He definitely inspired me and showed me what it took to be the best player that you could be — the work ethic, the dedication, the mindset going into it — he challenged me to be better,” Gasol said about Bryant.
Gasol played 18 seasons in the NBA, and about a third of those seasons were played with the Laker organization alongside Bryant.
He was traded to the Lakers midway through the 2007-08 NBA season by the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol was the No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft, being drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, who immediately traded him to the Grizzlies.
During his tenure with the Lakers, the team went to three consecutive NBA Finals and won back-to-back NBA championships in 2009 and 2010.
Of his six NBA All-Star selections, three were earned while as a member of the Lakers.
During a 2018 interview, Bryant predicted that Gasol would eventually have his jersey number in the rafters.
“The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of L.A. doesn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol … I really look forward to the day where he’s here giving his speech at center court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years,” Bryant said.
During his speech, Gasol thanked all those who have played a role in making him the player he was and the man he is.
Gasol left the Lakers as a free agent in 2014 to join the Chicago Bulls. He also had stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks before playing his final professional basketball season with FC Barcelona — where he began his basketball career in his native country.
Gasol announced his retirement from the game in October 2021, finishing his career as the greatest and most accomplished professional basketball player to ever come out of Spain.
This year, Gasol was named a finalist to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame.
The Lakers organization is rich in history, with great Centers like George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal who have their numbers up in the rafters.
Gasol has now etched his name among that list with his own jersey retirement.
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