Pau Gasol played six and a half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships and appearing in the NBA Finals three consecutive times from 2008-2010. Over that time, Gasol formed one of the most memorable two-man tandems in Lakers' history with Kobe Bryant. Gasol's more laid back personality made for an unexpectedly effective yin to Bryant's fiery and hyper-competitive yang as the Lakers for most of Gasol's 429 games in purple and gold.
Gasol left Los Angeles as a free agent following the Lakers' lottery bound 2014 season, but he and Bryant have maintained their friendship and mutual respect from afar. With the announcement that he is retiring at the end of the season, this year is the last time Bryant and Gasol will share the hardwood together, a reality that will leave the most hardened Lakers fan just a bit misty.
With Bryant's retirement tour in full swing, fans at every destination are showing their appreciation for Bryant in all of the Lakers' road games. In an interview with Alex Wong of GQ, Gasol gave a typically thoughtful answer to what he would get Bryant as a token of appreciation for his career:
If you had to give a farewell gift to Kobe, what would you give him?
Man, that's a tough one. The hardest people to give gifts to are the ones who have access to anything they want. So, it's really hard to shop for a guy like that. Maybe a fun week in Barcelona, put together a trip for his family, go to a winery, have some wine tasting, go to a nice restaurant and hang out. Something laid back. I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is spending time with family and people that you care about and sharing nice moments together.
Kobe has received some unique gifts on his retirement, including having an actual black mamba named after him, but this seems significantly more heartfelt. The best gifts Pau could have gotten Kobe, however, were probably their two rings together in 2009 and 2010, because as Kobe said before "friends can come and go, but banners hang forever." Banners hung with friends are probably even more memorable.