The Lakers will retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey on Tuesday and he couldn’t be more honored.
“Highlight of my career? I think it’s the highlight of my life,” Gasol told Fox Sports. “This moment that we’re about to experience. Having my jersey retired and receiving this honor and being with that group of people and incredible achievers, legends, it’s something I could’ve never imagined.”
It’s a fitting tribute to a man who has achieved so much in the NBA and in the record books, including being ranked in the top 40 all-time in scoring, top 30 all-time in total rebounds and top 25 all-time in blocks during his 18-season career.
Gasol’s jersey retirement comes less than a month after he was announced as a finalist for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 induction.
Just one day later, he was awarded the Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award by Vanessa Bryant on center court during All-Star weekend.
On the court, Gasol and Bryant combined for three straight Finals appearances and two titles together and now they will remain linked forever at the Lakers’ home arena.
“When Pau retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine, I really look forward to the day when he’s giving his speech at center court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years. It’s going to be an awesome night.” — Kobe Bryant in 2018 pic.twitter.com/ySgXeQjOHt
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 7, 2023
“My number goes up there, in big reason, because of him,” Gasol said at a Lakers event in January after Jeanie Buss announced his jersey would be retired in March. And also how he made me better, how he made us better, how he led us in those runs and the effect that he had. And then obviously not having him here with us, it’s tough.
“Just trying to little by little take it in and just digest and comprehend that my number, my jersey will be up there with those great amazing players and names in the history of our game,” Gasol continued. “And obviously being next to Kobe, seeing his name, still emotional. And I know that that’s going to be the triggering point for me. … So those two factors together are just a tough cocktail.”
Gasol’s loved ones will be with him for his jersey retirement on Tuesday, while Kobe will be watching on from above.