There are currently 12 Lakers jerseys hanging in the rafters at Staples Center, two of which belong to the late, great Kobe Bryant. There are no immediate plans to add another, but before Bryant died in January, he made it clear whose number he wanted to see next to his: Pau Gasol.
“There’s no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine,” Bryant told Antonio Martín of EFE in 2018. “The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau; the city of L.A. doesn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol. We know that, everybody knows that, and I really look forward to the day that he’s there giving his speech at center court in front of all of the fans that have supported him over the years. It’s going to be an awesome night.”
While Gasol might not agree that he’s worthy of the honor, he acknowledged that it’s a popular prospect amongst Lakers fans in a recent interview with Ryan Ward of Clutch Points, and said he’d love to see his jersey hanging in the rafters at Staples:
“It will be an honor if it does happen,” Gasol said of his potential jersey retirement. “It would be a privilege to be in that group. It means a lot to me that the fans would like to see that. It will be beyond my dreams to be able to experience that.”
The case for Gasol to have his jersey retired by the Lakers really isn’t that hard to make. During their championship runs in 2009 and 2010, he was the second-most valuable player on the team, and, on some nights, the most valuable player.
Outside of his huge playoff performances, he was just really good basketball player, and he made six All-Star games and four All-NBA teams because of it. Add that to the medals he won with the Spanish national team, plus the accolades he earned as a young player in the Spanish League, and Gasol is easily a Basketball Hall of Famer. If he’s good enough for the Hall of Fame, he’s good enough to have his jersey retired by the team he enjoyed the most success with.
Like Bryant said: there’s no debate.