Former Los Angeles Lakers star big man Pau Gasol has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023, it was announced at the NCAA Final Four on Saturday morning. Joining Gasol in one of the most star-studded Hall of Fame classes ever will be Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, a pair of San Antonio Spurs legends in head coach Gregg Popovich and point guard Tony Parker and WNBA legend Becky Hammon.
Gasol has had one of the most accomplished international careers in all of basketball. Before coming over to the NBA, Gasol played for FC Barcelona in his native Spain where he won two Liga ACB Championships as well as the Spanish King’s Cup in 2001 where he was named MVP of the tournament.
Gasol was drafted 3rd overall in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies and immediately made an impact as won the Rookie of the Year Award. Additionally, he would lead the franchise to their first-ever postseason appearances in three consecutive years from 2004-06 while also making his first All-Star team.
But Gasol’s life would change forever when he was traded to the Lakers in 2008. He would become the perfect co-star to Kobe Bryant because of his immense skill level and high basketball IQ.
Gasol would help lead the Lakers to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2008 to 2010, winning two NBA Championships in back-to-back seasons. He was also selected to three straight All-Star Games from 2009 to 2011 while being named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2011 and All-NBA Third Team in 2009 and 2010.
Likely Gasol’s most memorable moment with the Lakers came during the 2010 NBA Finals against the rival Boston Celtics. After struggling against Boston in the 2008 Finals, Gasol was excellent the second time around, averaging 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 blocks. In the deciding Game 7, it was Gasol who was the difference maker, dominating the paint and finishing with 19 points and 18 rebounds in the hard-fought victory.
Even though he would leave the Lakers in free agency in 2014, Gasol showed he had plenty left in the tank, garnering two more All-Star selections and another All-NBA Second Team selection with the Chicago Bulls.
Not just limited to NBA success, Gasol also had plenty of international success in leading his native Spain to three EuroBasket Championships in 2009, 2011, and 2015 as well as the FIBA World Cup in 2006. Along the way, he was named FIBA European Player of the Year twice and FIBA EuroBasket MVP two times as well.
It is a well-deserved honor for one of the greatest international players ever, and one of the best human beings to boot.
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