Pau Gasol cried. What in the previous press conference had been a smile like a nervous child, a twinkle in the eyes of a knot in the stomach and head in a thousand places, of memories and promises, se became a runaway emotion at halftime, March 7, 2023, from the match between the Los Angeles Lakers, the team with which he won two championship rings, and the Memphis Grizzlies, which gave him his first opportunity in the NBA. Pau Gasol, a huge heart in an endless body, a fascinating guy and a wonderful basketball player, looked up at the sky with a mixture of longing and fascination. And with a point of disbelief. Because there are simply things that, I guess, you never think will end up happening to you to you.
And I imagine one of them is the Los Angeles Lakers retiring your jersey. Let no one else wear your number in a franchise that is at the heart of world sports, which has won the NBA 17 times and has filled the walls of rooms all over the world; He has printed t-shirts, backpacks, caps, sheets. All: The Los Angeles Lakers are more than a team. Los Angeles Lakers are basketball history. The Los Angeles Lakers have withdrawn the jerseys of a collection of impossible superheroesguys we saw on television without fully believing that they were reallywho showered after the games and went home by car, like the rest of the mortals.
Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal, James Worthy, Kobe Bryant… and from now on Pau Gasol. His number 16 is already on the roof of the crypto.com sand, the old Staples. With, of course, Kobe’s 24 and 8 next to him and James Worthy’s 42 on top. No one else will take it. March 7, 2023 is a historic day for Spanish sports, something that years ago would have seemed like science fiction, a subplot of Star Wars, one of those impossible Hollywood scripts. 16 is yours, Pau Gasol, forever.
A Spanish player, one of the best power forwards ever and a splendid talent who spent two decades breaking down barriers, is in the legend of the franchise that creates legends. And it’s in the Los Angeles culture. A city that is a strange companion that gets inside you, stays with you when you walk away. That she speaks to you, whispering or shouting multicolored, every time you set foot on its streets. Overlooking the Pacific, deeply idiosyncratic, with social gears that have more to do with character than geography. It is a city made of cities, a mind map. A culture that comes out of the mixture of all that one can imagine, a hotbed of races and traditions that spread with that vibrant energy of the profoundly mestizo. It is, from the beaches to the hills, the groove of stars that are projected from Hollywood; But above all it is a place, down to earth, with hard work and a strong heart. One who loves his own and who hugs the one who wants to be there. Basically, if you want to be from los angeles, you’re from los angeles.
Also if you are a guy of 2.16 who was born almost 10,000 kilometers away, in Sant Boi, and who began to study medicine until basketball said here I am. In the LA that is not (only) the Lakers, there is a clear trace of how much Pau Gasol meant. The representativeness for the Latino community, the hours of work with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the different star aura. or of normal type with star. The immigrant, the one who is from there by vocation and not by place of birth, the one who makes his way. Pau Gasol had a lot of the city in his story, so his was not an adaptation: it was a hug.
On top of a gigantic mountain
All this, of course, is also part of the legacy that the Lakers polished yesterday. What is not perceived so at first sight, especially from our side of the Atlantic. The rest, the trackeveryone has it in their heads: one of the best European players in history, one of the banners of the globalization of the NBA. He was ahead of his time, if you like, and if you analyze the current style of play, because he was a giant who dribble, passed, created and shot from almost anywhere. A pinch of tap dancing in the areas and more muscle than he wanted to recognize. At least until he towered over rivals like Dwight Howard and, above all, Kevin Garnett, and He entered the history of the Lakers with two rings in three consecutive finals. Until he climbed all the mountains and became a warrior without ceasing to be a poet. He was precisely for this reason only.
And Kobe, of course. Pau facilitated his stage as leader temperedoperated the controls of what ended up being a player even more total, a more resounding (healthier) winner. He stabilized some Lakers in permanent anxiety and made a happy megastar that, thanks to his arrival, he stopped wanting to leave and fulfilled, with a halo of redemption, what for almost five years had been a suicide mission: win without Shaquille O’Neal, change his narrative. Kobe Bryant’s blood is the blood of the Lakers. And Pau was a perfect partner, a friend without conditions and a squire armed to the teeth in unforgettable battles. And that, in the Lakers, has a huge, mystical meaning.
All this history, everything that Pau Gasol has been on the basketball courts and off them, danced around the bonfire of the crypto.com. your night, Celebrating Pau Gasol, her tears. His number 16. With him were his family, his wife and children, colleagues and old friends. In the National Team -Calderón, Navarro, Raúl López…- and in purple and gold: Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace… There was Jimmy Butler, who played with him in Chicago. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the gold standard of what it means to be a myth. The very definition of the term. And there was, of course, Vanessa Bryant, whom Pau called sister and that he exercised godmother, ambassador of everything that Kobe was and still is, with each mention a roar that overwhelmed from the stands and shrank the soul. Like the ovations that Pau received. The real ones, the ones that stick to the skin and cause tears. “To the city of LA, to the laker nation… I love youshe said, her heart in her throat. And anyone who was there, or who asks for him from end to end of Los Angeles, can swear that the feeling is mutual. Wow yes.