Every great story has three parts: a rising action, the climax and, of course, the fall. The story of Pau Gasol is that great story. From winning gold three times in the EuroBasketball tournament to winning two silver medals at the Olympics to of course his two titles with the Los Angles Lakers, Gasol has had both the team and career success to make it into Springfield.
When Gasol turned sixteen he signed on to play with Barcelona’s junior team. He won the 1998 Albert Schweitzer Tournament (an international game where the best U-18 players play) and the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. After making the national team and joining the Spanish ACB League for a season, Gasol was named MVP of the league and decided to join the NBA. He was drafted third overall by the Hawks, only to be traded to the newly relocated Memphis Grizzlies (other notable players drafted: Kawame Brown: 1st, Shane Battier 6th, Tony Parker 28th)
Once in the NBA, Gasol dominated winning Rookie of the Year honors and being named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He led the Grizzlies in scoring the next year and by his third year, he was able to get the Griz to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
In year five, Gasol made his first All-Star appearance. He was the first player in the franchise’s history to play in the game. That season the Grizzlies were able to make it to the playoffs, but again couldn’t make it past the first round. The following year the team only won 22 games after Gasol broke his foot playing for Spain over the summer.
During his time in Memphis, Gasol became the franchise’s leading scorer, minutes leader, and field goals made leader. But after the Grizzlies started the season 13-33, it was time to make a move. He quite simply never had enough help in Memphis. Other great bigs like Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan had Jason Terry and Tony Parker. Gasol didn’t have a player that could take the pressure off him.
"Music, like sports, provides great peace and beauty." – Pau Gasol— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 19, 2019
Get the full story on the Spurs center's love of the arts with an episode of #BeyondThePaint // Tonight at 10pm ET on NBA TV! 📺 pic.twitter.com/ZWUmO0YKKs
Big men in the NBA are fickle. Some of the greatest players of all-time happen to be giants. Guys like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dwight Howard are all or will be Hall of Famers. They all played for the Lakers too. The rising action is also the part of the story wherein introduce another character.
Remember how Gasol didn’t have help in Memphis? He did with the Lakers in the form of The Black Mamba.
The change between the Lakers and the Grizzlies was like night and day. For one, Pau moved from the 51st media market in the country to the second. For another, he was now playing next to a legitimate All-Stars in Kobe Bryant and another big in Andrew Bynum.
Gasol’s averaged 19-8 and helped the Lakers make it all the way to the NBA Finals, the first of his career. In the Finals, Gasol would have the task of matching up with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. When the final chapter of the book is written for Gasol’s career, it won’t have “defensive anchor” anywhere in between the pages. He struggled mightily against the Boston big men.
The next two seasons, Gasol and the Lakers would make it back to the Finals winning in 2009 and 2010.
In ’09, Gasol used the knowledge he had earned from the previous year’s shortcomings and helped shut down MVP runner up Dwight Howard.
In 2010, it was a different story.
Down 3-2 to the Boston Celtics and with the last two games in L.A, it was crucial for Gasol to have a good game. In Game 6, Gasol led the Lakers in +/- and had a near triple-double, scoring 17 points, 13 boards, and nine assists. In Game 7, Gasol almost had the first 20-20 Finals game since Shaq in 2004 when he was able toscore 19 points and added 18 rebounds. For viewers of the Finals, the debate still continues if Gasol should have been the Finals MVP over Kobe. This would be the climax of Gasol’s career.
The next four years for Gasol were good ones. He got to another All-Star Game, racking up the points and rebounds, but nothing would ever get close to those Finals runs.
After 2012, where the Lakers lost to the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder, Gasol’s impacted dwindled. While he and Kobe both were getting up in age, the prime of Gasol was starting to slip away.
For the ’12-’13 season, the Lakers decided to make one last championship run. They traded for Howard and Steve Nash, leading to one of the hottest dumpster fires in NBA history. Gasol did his part and played his role, but his threatening presence went away.
Gasol would leave LA for the third largest media market, Chicago. There he was able to find a little bit of that Euro magic averaging a double-double in two seasons.
Now, in his 16th season, Gasol plays in San Antonio. He is in an even more reduced role on a fringe playoff team. There is a good chance he retires after this season.
Gasol was the best player on a franchise that needed a franchise player. He helped win the city of LA two championships. Not to mention, he thrived in two of the three biggest media markets in the United States. This means voters have seen him for the better part of a decade and a half.
The Spaniard is a six-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year winner, and made four All-NBA Teams. He’s a career 17-9 guy and is one of the most beloved players in any city he’s played in. Gasol won Olympic and International medals and was the best fit next to Kobe. Pau Gasol will 100% get into the Hall of Fame.