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Basketball: Pau Gasol, the Catalan giant bows out

Legend of European basketball and double NBA champion, the interior put an end to his rich and long career on Tuesday, after leading the Spaniards on the roofs of Europe and the world, even going so far as to compete with the Americans at the Olympics .

It is a Catalan giant who is leaving: three times European champion, the eldest of the Gasol brothers also climbed on the highest step of the World Cup podium in 2006, but the two epic finals lost against the successors of the Dream Team at the Games, especially the first in 2008 in Beijing against Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, are perhaps the most salient snags of his incredible career.

Well surrounded by the generation of these “ninos de oro” (golden children), his great friend Juan Carlos Navarro, his brother Marc Gasol, who also had a brilliant career in the NBA, or Rudy Fernandez, that’s good he who made Spain the leading European basketball power in the 21st century. He occupies a prominent place in the pantheon of continental basketball alongside legends Dirk Nowitzki, Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, and his “best enemy” Tony Parker.

The France of basketball will remember the miseries that the pivot / strong Catalan winger (2.16 m) had done to the Blues in the semi-finals of Euro 2015: with 40 points and 11 rebounds, Gasol had signed the best international match of his career. Two days later, he won one of the eleven international medals that adorn his large list.

Bryant’s friendship

Ultra-dominant in Fiba basketball, Pau Gasol is also one of the Europeans who have most marked the history of the NBA, where he notably managed a double (2009, 2010) with the Los Angeles Lakers of Bryant. After winning the Spanish championship and the Copa del Rey the same year (2001) with his favorite club, FC Barcelona, ​​Gasol made the big leap, still very young (21 years old), to America. He was drafted in third place by the Atlanta Hawks, who immediately sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies.

This guy is amazing. He’s just a huge player, we wouldn’t have won without him

Kobe bryant

The great Pau then makes his very “European” game taste, based on solid technical fundamentals, inside the NBA. After a few years of adaptation, he grows physically, acquires a reliable shoot, and his mobility is wreaking havoc in snowshoes. He became the leader of the Grizzlies in 2004 and in 2006 he won the first of his six selections for the All Star Game. The 2015 All-Star Game will leave a photo for history: the initial jump-off between the East and West teams is played between Pau Gasol … and Marc Gasol.

Back to Barça

After seven seasons in Memphis, Bryant calls him to his side at the Los Angeles Lakers. It is the beginning of a strong friendship between the two stars. “I have no words to describe it well enough. This guy is amazing. He is simply a huge player, we would not have won without him, ”Bryant had praised the evening of the 2010 title, ten years before his death in a tragic helicopter crash in January 2020. Pau will become the same the godfather of one of Bryant’s daughters.

Gasol left the Lakers in 2014, then went on to serve as an experienced lieutenant at the Chicago Bulls (2014-2016), Spurs (2016-2019), Milwaukee and Portland (2019), without experiencing the same success and being diminished by a broken foot. He will end his career in his favorite club, FC Barcelona (2021), after failing one last time at the Tokyo Olympics.

A figure in Spanish sport internationally, Gasol remains very committed in his country of birth: with tennis legend Rafael Nadal, Gasol, for example, helped raise nearly 14 million euros for the Red Cross in June. 2020, in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.


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