The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Wednesday that the team will retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 on March 7, 2023, during their game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Further details about the ceremony are not yet available.
Gasol was drafted by the Grizzlies as the No. 3 overall pick in 2001 and spent six-plus seasons in Memphis before being traded to the Lakers ahead of the deadline in 2008. The deal is one of the most controversial in NBA history because of the timing — three weeks before the trade deadline when it wasn’t clear Gasol was even available — and insignificant return for one of the best big men in the league.
Regardless, the Lakers were not complaining. Gasol formed a terrific inside-outside combination with the late Kobe Bryant and helped the Lakers make three straight Finals appearances from 2008-10. After a defeat to the Boston Celtics in 2008, the Lakers won back-to-back titles, defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 before getting revenge over the Celtics in 2010.
That last title proved to be the high point of Gasol’s time with the Lakers. The team was eliminated in the second round in both 2011 and 2012, the first round in 2013 and failed to make the playoffs in 2014. Gasol was also supposed to be a part of the disallowed trade that would have brought Chris Paul to the Lakers in 2012, and struggled with injuries during his final few seasons in purple and gold. He eventually departed in free agency in 2014, signing with the Chicago Bulls.
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While his tenure with Lakers fizzled out, he was an important part of one of the team’s most successful eras. Over his 429 games with the Lakers, he averaged 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting 52.2 percent from the field. He made three All-Star Games and three All-NBA appearances.
In recent years, Gasol has helped support Vanessa Bryant and her surviving daughters following the tragic death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. In 2020, he gave his newborn daughter the middle name “Gianna” and made Vanessa the godmother.
“I think it was a way to have him and her present in our lives forever,” Gasol said in a 2021 interview. “It was just probably, for us, the biggest way that we could actually honor him and her into our lives, and now, having Vanessa as the godmother of our baby Ellie Gianna, that’s life. We’re a family. And we love each other. We’re gonna be there all the way. … We’re gonna be here always, through the good times and the bad times.”