Kobe Bryant correctly predicted that teammate and close friend Pau Gasol would have his jersey hanging next to his own as the Spaniard honors the Black Mamba ahead of his ceremony
The late Kobe Bryant predicted that Lakers teammate Pau Gasol’s jersey would be hanging next to his own.
The Lakers retired Gasol’s No. 16 jersey Tuesday night, honoring the genteel big man who spent the best seasons of his 18-year NBA career with Bryant in Los Angeles. The Lakers reached three straight NBA Finals after Gasol’s arrival in February 2008, winning championships in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol and Bryant did it all together, and now as The Black Mamba, who tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in 2020, predicted, their numbers now hang side by side in the Lakers’ arena.
In 2018, Bryant was asked during the Oscars about his opinion on Gasol getting his jersey number retired and without hesitation he claimed his teammate deserved to have it hanging in the rafters next to his own.
‘There’s no debate. Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine,’ Bryant said.
The late Kobe Bryant predicted teammate Pau Gasol’s jersey would be hanging next to his own
The Lakers retired Gasol’s No. 16 jersey Tuesday night, honoring him during their game
‘The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of LA doesn’t have those two championships without Pau. So, we know that. Everybody knows that.
‘I’ll be looking forward to the day when he’s there giving me his speech at center court in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years. It’s gonna be an awesome night.’
Gasol will be honored by the Lakers during halftime of their home game against the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night and as he previewed the event, Gasol got emotional remembering Bryant.
‘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. And obviously being next to Kobe, seeing his name, still emotional,’ Gasol said.
Gasol´s versatile game complemented Bryant´s scoring prowess perfectly when Gasol decided to be a supporting player to a fellow superstar, and the two also formed a deep off-court friendship that endured to Bryant´s death in 2020.
The 17-time NBA champion franchise typically only retires the numbers of players in the Hall of Fame, and Gasol is a first-time finalist for the honor this year with a strong chance of making the cut. Gasol made three of his six career All-Star teams during his time with Los Angeles while averaging 17.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.
‘It’s a huge, huge honor,’ Gasol said of the upcoming retirement ceremony. ‘Just something that I’ve never envisioned.
The Spaniard got emotional remembering Bryant as he previewed the ceremony Tuesday
‘ And it’s not just an honor to me, it’s an honor to my family, my parents, and I think to a lot of people. I think it’s a reflection of obviously a great run that we’ve had, and that I was able to do my part. So it’s also an honor I think to the rest of my teammates and my coaches and the staff that we had during those years.’
‘Don’t get me wrong, right when I joined the team, I think what I sensed from the very beginning — and what Kobe let me know from the very first day that I joined the team in Washington [was], “Let’s go win a championship.”
‘We’re not here just to make the playoffs like most teams approach it or to win some games. Wearing a Lakers jersey, you’re joining our team to win a championship, to make that difference. And that was the mindset from the very second [I got there] and Kobe made sure that I knew.
‘We just complimented each other well,’ Gasol said of Bryant. ‘He brought a unique edge, work ethic, dedication to the game. I think he appreciated my IQ, my understanding of the game, and my ability to catch the ball, having good hands and being able to make plays for myself and my teammates. I think I kind of balanced what he brought to the table.’
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