After previously announcing plans to eventually do so, the Lakers confirmed on Wednesday as part of their release of the 2022-23 schedule that they would retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey. The ceremony will take place on March 7 against the Grizzlies, the franchise and team where Gasol started his career.
A Champion, legend, and forever part of the Lakers Family.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 17, 2022
3/7/23 - We raise Pau Gasol's jersey into the rafters pic.twitter.com/F9snGrHO9o
Gasol will become the 12th former player to see his jersey lifted into the rafters, joining teammate Kobe Bryant. He also joins a long list of Lakers big men that have their number enshrined by the franchise, from Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, most recently, Shaquille O’Neal.
Last October, Gasol announced his retirement from basketball after a brief run playing back in his home country of Spain. On that day, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss tweeted that the franchise would retire his number.
Gasol’s Lakers career spanned seven seasons in which he reached the Finals in each of the first three of those campaigns, winning two titles in the process. He averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 429 games with the franchise.
More important than his mere statistical production, Gasol was the piece that put the Lakers over the top, taking them from upstart contender to championship-caliber machine. The big man was an integral piece of the Lakers’ title teams and played a huge role in the team finally vanquishing its Finals demons against the Celtics in 2010.
Gasol was already a fan favorite during his time as a Laker, but has become an even bigger one in his time since leaving the NBA. Since Kobe’s passing, his close friend and former teammate, Gasol’s involvement with the Bryant family has endeared himself further to the fans of the franchise and shown just how great of a person he is.
Now he’ll be rightfully honored for his on-court production on a night that will surely be equal parts emotional and memorable.