Lost amongst the shuffle of All-Star Weekend was a moment that certainly would mean a lot to Lakers fans. On Sunday afternoon, Pau Gasol was named the recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award and was presented that award at halftime of the All-Star Game itself.
The award was created in 2020, though the first recipient was not given until last year. Chris Paul received the honor in 2022, and Gasol was the recipient this season. As pictured above, he was presented with the award by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Vanessa Bryant.
Bryant’s entire family was present in Utah, leading to a great moment with Bryant’s kids and LeBron James as well.
LeBron showing love to the Bryant family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/3Zbb2LSPfC— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 20, 2023
Bron & the Bryants. It's all family. pic.twitter.com/4c9tzSz0vK— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 20, 2023
As for Pau, the award, as explained by the NBA, “aims to honor advocates and influencers who use their time, talent, and platform to raise awareness for the WNBA, and women’s and girls’ basketball in various ways, like Kobe was so committed to doing.” The award is named after Kobe because of his contribution in growing the women’s game and Gigi for her “inspirational, relentless commitment to play at the highest levels of the game.”
Vanessa was quoted in the press release as saying the following on Pau:
“I’m so pleased that Pau has been chosen to receive this award. Pau has done so much to promote women and girls in sports and cares deeply about spreading a message of equality, which was so important to Kobe and Gianna,” said Vanessa Bryant, Chair of the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a positive impact for underserved athletes and boys and girls in sports. “We are grateful to the WNBA and Pau for continuing to honor Kobe and Gianna in this way,” said Bryant.
Pau also was quoted in the release and expressed his excitement not just for receiving the award but also because of who it was named after.
“It is an honor to receive this distinction, which makes me especially happy because it represents two people who are and will always be in my heart,” said Pau Gasol. “Kobe’s work, especially during his later years, to support women’s sports is an excellent example of where we must direct our efforts to ensure full equality in sports.”
This won’t be the last honor Pau receives this year. Gasol will have his jersey retired by the Lakers on March 7 against the Grizzlies.
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