More Than a Sidekick: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol (right) and legendary teammate Kobe Bryant (left) developed a great friendship and extraordinary respect for each other during their back-to-back championship run


Pau Gasol (right) and legendary teammate Kobe Bryant (left) developed a great friendship and extraordinary respect for each other during their back-to-back championship run

Jack Houston, Sports Editor

“I think the city of L.A. didn’t really appreciate what he did, and what we had,” Lakers legend Kobe Bryant told the Orange County Register.

Mid range sniper, post maestro, slick passing, reliable defender, and an underappreciated leader: all of these qualities perfectly describe the quite possibly one of the most overlooked stars in NBA history, Pau Gasol.

Along with other European legends such as Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol helped solidify the modern skill-oriented big man archetype as a dominant force alongside the likes of the traditional strong post-up centers and power forwards. Players today such as Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis would surely not be as appreciated without the work and accomplishments of players like Pau.

In honor of his retirement and overall contribution to the game of basketball, let’s dive into the outstanding career of Pau Gasol and disprove the notion that he was just another mere teammate of the great Kobe Bryant.

The most overlooked aspect of Gasol’s career is his dominant work in Europe.

Before even entering the NBA, Gasol was making strides in the Euroleague, the basketball league regarded as the second overall best in the world (behind the NBA) and the hardest defense. Despite this, Gasol shined as a young 21 year old playing for FC Barcelona, averaging 18.5 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game on a stellar 67% shooting, earning him the title of Finals MVP Honors when his club won the championship (Basketball Reference). Despite being drafted 3rd overall to the NBA by the Atlanta Hawks (in which he was later traded to the Memphis Grizzlies), Gasol still poured his soul into the league that brought him up. Over the course of many years, Gasol has garnered numerous Euroleague awards such as 2 MVPs, a FIBA world championship, 3 ACB championships, and many others (Sporting News).

However, many basketball fans know Gasol not for his work in the Euroleague, but for his effort in the NBA. Gasol’s talent immediately translated to the NBA in which he won the 2002 Rookie of the Year Award averaging nearly 18 ppg and 9 rpg. Pau continued to dominate on the Grizzlies, averaging 20.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, and 3.4 apg in one of his final seasons with the team (Basketball Reference).

Because of his extreme talent and skill on both ends of the court, Laker player Kobe Bryant took interest in the young star. As such, Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008. Gasol and Bryant immediately clicked. The Lakers won back-to-back championships for the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 in which Pau Gasol put up an arguable Finals MVP performance in 2010 (which was given to Kobe Bryant).

However, in 2011, Gasol was traded to the Chicago Bulls where he would be a 2 time all star. He would then play for the Spurs and the Bucks. At the end of his career, Gasol racked up around 21,000 points and over 11,000 rebounds, making him 1 out of 18 players in NBA history to do so. He also ended as a 6 time all star and 4 time All NBA player while having final career averages of 17 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 3.2 apg.

Numerous Ramapo NBA fans have shown their appreciation for the legendary big man.

“Those Lakers teams with Pau and Kobe were fun to watch,” says senior Chris Cording. “Pau is definitely one of the more underrated guys of all time. He deserves a lot more credit for his contributions to the sport.”

At 41 years old, Pau Gasol is finally hanging up the jersey. The Los Angeles Lakers also decided to hang up his #16 jersey in the banners, solidifying him as a legend and future first-ballot hall of famer.