One of the best players in the history of the NBA and the two-time champion, Pau Gasol, officially retired today.
He is one of the last active players of his generation and the living legend that undoubtedly left a massive mark in the history of this sport. The 41-year old Gasol announced his decision today at the press conference.
“I am here today to tell you what you all expect. My professional basketball career is over. It is a hard decision for me after all these years. You have to know when to slow down and enjoy. I wanted to play, but not with crutches and surgeries.”
Gasol had several tough injuries in the past few years, which are the main reason for his retirement. He came back to court following a tough rehab, and the only motive for Gasol was his daughter because he wanted her to see him play.
The last team for the legendary center was Barcelona, where he became the young superstar everyone wanted to have. He would even play for Spain in the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo but wasn’t that dominant as before.
Blaugrana lost in the EuroLeague finals, and the Spanish national team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Olympics to the USA.
Gasol’s career was memorable. He was picked at the 2001 NBA draft as the third selection by the Atlanta Hawks, who would then made arguably one of the biggest mistakes in their history. The Hawks traded Gasol to Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who, even though was a solid player, never had a career like the Spaniard’s.
Gasol immediately made an impact, becoming the NBA Rookie of the Year and one of the best big players in the league. In 2008, he moved to the LA Lakers, where he and Kobe Bryant won two NBA titles. Afterward, Gasol played for the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
He would become a 6-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA Second and Third team, and the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner.
For some, he is the most important player in the Lakers’ 2010 title quest. Even though Kobe won the NBA Finals MVP award, a big part of the basketball community believes that Gasol’s epic encounters with Kevin Garnet made the difference in the end. In the end, he appeared in 1,226 NBA games, averaging 17 points with 9.2 boards, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 blocks.
His career in the national team was equally impressive. As the leader of the best generation in Spanish history and one of the best in Europe ever, Gasol won three European Championships, one World Cup, and was second in the Olympics twice. Overall, he has 11 medals from these three competitions combined.
We will only mention a few individual awards he earned while playing outside the NBA – twice the FIBA European Player of the Year, World Cup MVP, twice the EuroBasket MVP, three-time top scorer at EuroBasket, and many more.
Gasol’s appearance in the NBA was the moment when big European players started to take over the center and power forward positions. The likes of Vlade Divas and Arvydas Sabonis created the foundation for that, but it was Gasol who indicated that the big players from overseas could dominate in the NBA.
His retirement is one sad news for basketball, as this sport lost one of its brightest stars. We wish all the best to Pau Gasol and his family in his retirement.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.