In a ceremony that mirrored the emotion he played with on the court during his career, Pau Gasol had his jersey retired by the Lakers during Tuesday’s contest against the Grizzlies. A fan favorite during and after his time in Los Angeles, everyone spent Tuesday honoring Pau and what he meant to the franchise.
A man whose career was tied so closely to that of Kobe Bryant’s, the emotions were evident from the onset of the halftime presentation, starting with the unveiling of his jersey next to Kobe’s.
An emotional Pau Gasol watching his Lakers jersey get retired right next to Kobe Bryant's 2 numbers. Can't imagine what Pau is feeling seeing that visual.— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) March 8, 2023
Who's cutting onions pic.twitter.com/UEaLtKmiK2
Pau’s relationship with Kobe and his family extended well beyond the court and has been evident since Bryant’s passing in 2020. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, attended the ceremony and was on the court with Pau and his family.
In true Gasol fashion, his unselfishness led him to thank everyone involved in his career from Jeanie Buss to Mitch Kupchak to Phil Jackson. He also was certain to thank his teammates, many of whom were present on the night.
Gasol wrapped up his speech by thanking the fans and pledging to continue helping others across the world, another constant for Pau throughout and after his NBA career.
Prior to the game, Gasol spoke to reporters on a number of topics, ranging from Kobe to his feelings about being honored on the night.
Pau Gasol, back in the arena, fidgeting with his two championship rings as he talks about his jersey being retired tonight at halftime. pic.twitter.com/C1tQSDeRZC— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) March 8, 2023
“I would go as far as he wanted me to go.” Pau Gasol on how Kobe Bryant inspired him.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 8, 2023
Pau Gasol on his day: “It’s something very special.”— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 8, 2023
He described many feelings, including pride and honor thinking about his career. There’s also the mix of appreciation, sadness and sense of loss regarding his brotherhood with Kobe, as his No. 16 will go up next to 8 and 24.
In all, it was as memorable and emotional a night as everyone expected, but it was also a night that Gasol earned and one that everyone enjoyed celebrating.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.