Wishing his “big brother” Kobe Bryant to be by his side, Pau Gasol finally ended a basketball career that went “beyond my dreams and expectations.”
Gasol announced his retirement from basketball on Tuesday after a career spanning more than two decades, winning two NBA titles and a world championship gold for the Spanish national team.
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“In the end, playing until the age of 41, with what I’ve done, I don’t think it’s bad,” Gasol said. “I am very happy and very grateful for my career and for receiving so much affection and support.”
Gasol announced his retirement from international basketball in August after losing to the United States to Spain in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Games, marking his fifth Olympics.
Gasol has been with Spanish club Barcelona since February. His career came to a halt earlier this year due to a left leg injury that kept him out of the game for almost two years.
“I’m going to retire from professional basketball,” Gasol said. “It’s a difficult decision after so many years, but it’s a decision I really thought of.”
The retirement was announced at a ceremony at an opera house in Barcelona, attended by former teammates and family members, including his wife, younger daughter and younger brother Mark.
Gasol gasps as he mentions a missing person – Bryant, his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate who died in a helicopter crash last year.
“I really liked her staying here,” Gasol said. “Sometimes life can be very unfair and we miss him and his daughter ‘Gigi’ a lot. He taught me how to be a good leader, a good competitor. He showed me what it means to be a winner. He is my big brother, so Thank you, Kobe. “
Gasol said it was risky to continue playing because his leg could be broken and he “could only be able to swim and ride a bike for the rest of his life.” He said he “wanted to stay home more, spend more time doing other things.”
Gasol said he did his best to recover from the foot injury and was happy to fulfill his dream of playing in front of the girl.
“It’s one of the most beautiful times of my career,” she said. “And being able to play with the Spanish national team again was something very special. We didn’t win a medal (at the Tokyo Olympics), but just being able to play was a great achievement for me.”
Gasol 200 won two NBA titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and averaged 17 points and 9.2 rebounds in 1,226 regular-season games with five NBA teams, playing as a center and power forward. His other teams were the Memphis Grizzlies, the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Box. He was No. 3 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, elected by Atlanta and traded in Memphis.
Gasol last played in the NBA in 2019 with Box. That year he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers but never played.
Gasol 200 won the World Championship title with Spain in Spain, in addition to the European titles in 2009, 2011 and 2015.
He won Olympic silver medals for Spain in Beijing 2008 and London in 2012, as well as bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Gasol recently won an election to represent athletes for the next seven years on the International Olympic Committee. He joined the IOC membership list drawn from a variety of athletes selected by European and Middle Eastern royalty, international sports organizations, business leaders and their colleagues.
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Gasol said he was preparing for life after retiring for a while and would start new projects that would include working with his foundation, IOC and UNICEF.
He said he could go into the world of consulting and executive, and has already begun contacting some NBA teams to discuss the ideas.
“I’ve tried my best, but if you play the role of a leader, you have to take some responsibility and that’s what I want to do,” Gasol said. “I want to give back to sports and society what they have given.”