The Los Angeles Lakers basketball team retired the jersey of Spanish player Pau Gasol, who wore the number 16 for six and a half seasons. Gasol, who joined the Lakers in 2008, was instrumental in helping the team win two NBA rings alongside Kobe Bryant. The jersey retirement ceremony took place at Staples Center, now known as Crypto.com Arena, and Gasol joined other on-court legends whose jerseys have been retired, including Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Jerry West, Charles Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal, Earvin Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant. The 42-year-old Catalan center was visibly moved during the ceremony and said it was an honor to wear the jersey. He also mentioned Kobe Bryant, who died along with his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash in 2020, and said the Lakers would not have won the two championships in 2009 and 2010 without him.
Gasol recalled how Bryant pushed him to excel when he arrived in Los Angeles in the middle of the 2007-2008 season, and how Bryant brought him the gold medal from the Beijing Games to the Lakers’ locker room after beating him in the finals. Jackson, the legendary Lakers coach, said Gasol brought “his offensive prowess” to the team, which was an offensive machine. The jersey retirement ceremony took place at halftime of the regular-season game between the Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, another team with which Gasol played for six and a half seasons and where he was declared rookie of the year in 2002. At the end of the game, Gasol thanked his Spanish national team teammates for helping him distract himself before the tribute.
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