For the 11th time, a Los Angeles Lakers player will have his number retired to the famous wall alongside previous players such as Shaquille O'Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and of course, Kobe Bryant. In March, Pau Gasol's #16 will hold a spot right next to Mamba's - and we can't wait for the memorable ceremony ahead.
Gasol played for a total of 18 seasons in the league and 6 and a half of those seasons with the Lakers, of which he won two back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. During his time in the NBA, the seven-foot Spanish native was a six-time All-Star and four-time ALL-NBA player, among many more achievements during his lengthy career. After he was acquired from Memphis in 2008 to the Lakers, Gasol averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.4 blocks during his time as #16. So safe to say, he was nothing less than a beast running up and down the court.
With a completely stacked roster, 2009 and 2010 were two of the greatest seasons for the Los Angeles team. In addition to Kobe and Pau, Lakers legends such as Derek Fisher, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, and Jordan Farmar were all a part of taking home the championships those years. However, Bryant and Gasol always had an unbreakable bond on and off the court that ultimately led to both their winning championships and close bond. In an old video of Kobe in 2018, he made it clear, "Reality is, I don't win those championships without Pau. The city of L.A. doesn't have those two championships without Pau Gasol" - and we totally know it.
"There's no debate," Bryant says in the resurfaced clip. "Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine." Kobe continued, "And I really look forward to the day when he's there giving his speech at center court, in front of all the fans who supported him over the years. So it's gonna be an awesome night." So in the wise words of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol fan or not, it's going to be a night for the books. Until then, stay tuned. And a big congrats to #16!