Now 38-years-old and in his 18th NBA season, Pau Gasol has had the privilege of sharing the basketball court with some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen.
Gasol has teamed up with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash at various points in his illustrious career while playing against dozens of All-Star players and future Hall-of-Famers over the span of nearly two decades.
Now nearing the end of the road, Gasol can add Giannis Antetokounmpo to the list, who is widely considered one of the NBA’s brightest stars today.
At just 24 years old, Antetokounmpo has elevated his game to another level during the 2018-19 NBA season and is the favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award. He is one of three finalists along with James Harden and Paul George.
While Gasol has only been a member of the Milwaukee Bucks since March, he has clearly been impressed by Antetokounmpo’s work ethic. Gasol recently praised the three-time NBA All-Star and compared his skill set to a young Shaquille O’Neal.
However, Gasol stopped short of comparing Antetokounmpo to Bryant and deemed no player compares to him, via The Players’ Tribune:
Nobody is quite like Kobe. His combination of talent and will to win is like nothing I’ve seen in my career.
Gasol, who spent parts of seven seasons with Los Angeles, captured back-to-back championships in three consecutive NBA Finals appearances with Bryant. The two complemented each other well on the court and they accounted for some of the greatest moments in Los Angeles Lakers history.
Gasol also specifically cited Bryant’s killer instinct that separates him from any other teammate he has shared the court with in his 18 seasons:
I like this story because I think it tells you a lot about how Kobe approached the game. He never let himself get out of shape. He was always ready to go, and he demanded that everybody else be on the same page. I don’t believe that Kobe ever took a break. It was championship mode, pure and simple. The six and a half years I played with Kobe were my best basketball years. I learned the most about my game, and a big reason was number 24.
Bryant was truly one of a kind and has garnered similar praise from many of his former teammates.
Although they had their differences during their lone season together, Dwight Howard recently commended Bryant and believes he ‘did everything better’ than Michael Jordan.