The Los Angeles Lakers will send another jersey up to the rafters this season, retiring Pau Gasol’s No. 16.
Earlier this summer, the Lakers confirmed they would retire Gasol’s No. 16 jersey even before he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, with the ceremony taking place on March 7. That day, L.A. will host the Memphis Grizzlies — the Spaniard’s first NBA team.
In an interview with Complex’s Kameron Hay, Gasol opened up on the feelings and emotions that accompany him as he counts the days until the big day — adding the honor will feel even more special seeing his No. 16 jersey next to Kobe Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 again:
“It’s overwhelming. It’s hard for me to grasp and digest, it’s just overwhelming. It’s such a huge honor and recognition by the franchise towards me and what I was able to contribute to those championships, so I’m still processing to be honest. I’m not really prepared for it, but I’m truly humbled and excited. I look forward to that moment, and I’m trying to picture it little by little. It’s very emotional too, everyday that goes by it’s just a little closer and it’s going to get a little more emotional for me, just to see my number, my name next to all of those greats that you mentioned that I don’t take for granted, I don’t take lightly. But also more importantly, next to Kobe’s No. 8 and No. 24. Knowing that Gigi and him will be looking and watching, unfortunately they won’t be next to me but I know that Vanessa and the girls will be there and it’s going to mean the world to me because Kobe got me to be a better player. Kobe made me a better competitor, he elevated me and that’s what all great players do. And I will forever be thankful to my older brother because he impacted my life in a huge way.”
Gasol is having a wonderful year as a few months before the jersey retirement ceremony, he will become a father again. In August, the Lakers legend revealed his wife, Catherine McDonnell, is pregnant with a boy.
Gasol’s two-year-old daughter, Elisabet Gianna, will welcome her little brother later in the fall.
Gasol discusses going up against Bryant at 2008 Olympics in ‘The Redeem Team’
Gasol appeared in the newly-released Netflix documentary about Team USA’s 2008 Olympic gold victory — “The Redeem Team” — to discuss the two games he played against Bryant during the tournament.
The movie recalls how Bryant ran through Gasol’s screen to send his Lakers teammate to the ground — showing team allegiance wouldn’t matter to him as he tried to win gold for the U.S.
“He just went right to the middle of my chest,” Gasol says in the documentary, pointing at his torso.
“Tried to get right through me to send a message, not just to me, but to his teammates, saying ‘Hey, this might be my brother. I play with him, we’re close. But I don’t care about anything else but winning.’”
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