The finalists for the 2023 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame class of 2023 were announced on Friday and among the first-time nominees expected to be inducted are legendary Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol. The two-time NBA Champion joins Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich as those eligible to be inducted for the first-time in what is shaping up to be a star-studded class.
Gasol is one of the most beloved members of the Lakers in recent memory, joining the team via trade from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. The big man had already established himself as one of the most skilled big men in the league by that point, having won Rookie of the Year in 2002 and being named an All-Star in 2006.
But joining the purple and gold and beginning his bond and relationship with teammate and best friend Kobe Bryant is what truly bumped his career to the next level. Gasol would make three consecutive All-Star appearances with the Lakers from 2009 to 2011 as well as three straight All-NBA selections.
Most importantly, however, he helped bring the Lakers back-to-back NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010. His performance in the 2010 Finals against the Boston Celtics is what truly cemented his status amongst Laker greats as he averaged 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 blocks in the seven-game series. He saved his best for the final game however as he finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds in the deciding Game 7, dominating the paint to get revenge on the Lakers’ hated rivals.
Also helping Gasol’s Hall of Fame case is his international impact for his native Spain. Gasol led his country to the 2006 FIBA World Cup Championship where he was named MVP, as well as three EuroBasket Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2015 while being named MVP in two of those tournaments as well. He was also a standout in the Liga ACB league as a member of FC Barcelona, winning ACB Finals MVP in 2001 before ever entering the NBA and winning three league championships, including in 2021 where he returned after his NBA career ended.
What also helped endear Gasol to Lakers fans everywhere was his professionalism and good heart. Despite being involved in trade rumors throughout his time with the Lakers, and even being traded before that was vetoed, Gasol never let that affect his ability to perform on the court. And even since retiring, his actions since the tragic death of Kobe, have really given everyone a glimpse into the kind of person Gasol is.
Lakers to retire Pau Gasol’s no. 16 jersey on March 7
The NBA will likely soon be giving Gasol a major honor, but the Lakers are already set to honor the Spanish big man as they will be retiring his No. 16 to the rafters of the Crypto.com Arena on March 7 when the Lakers host the Memphis Grizzlies.
For his part, Gasol said he was ‘overwhelmed’ by the honor and is looking forward to his number being next to the 8 and 24 of his best friend Kobe Bryant.
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