Los Angeles (USA) (EFE).- Virtually without words to describe his emotion before an unforgettable day, Pau Gasol, whose number 16 will be withdrawn by the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, was grateful to all those who have accompanied him on this great journey.
“Is incredible. All I can say is thank you, ”he said Tuesday at a press conference at the Lakers stadium in the hours before his tribute.
Back at the Staples Center (now called Crypto.com Arena), Gasol, with his two Lakers championship rings on his fingers, was moved by the “many memories” he has of this place.
“They were many times walking through these corridors as a player, many special nights in this venue. I feel like I’m still in my 30s, but I’m not anymore.”
“It’s lovely. I am very lucky to have enjoyed such a special chapter playing basketball and the NBA. Tonight with the expectation, the emotion, the honor that I am going to receive… It is so big for me. It’s really hard to process,” he noted.
Gasol defined himself as “a fairly stable and restrained person” but assured that the emotions he feels are “alien” and “very strong.”
“So many things are happening inside that it is difficult to move them, contain them, want to let them flow. That’s why you see me doing a bit like a tightrope walker. It even gives you vertigo and overwhelms you, ”she described.
The Catalan acknowledged that his career went by “in the blink of an eye” and that the boy who was “playing basketball at school” with his friends “suddenly” found himself competing in the NBA and for “the biggest franchise in basketball.”
“But tonight is really beyond any dreams or expectations I’ve ever had. It means so much,” she noted.
Gasol also referred to Kobe Bryant, with whom he formed an extraordinary alliance on and off the pitch and whose absence weighs heavily on him.
“It is significant, powerful, sad, happy, painful. There are many things, ”she indicated about his mixed feelings.
“He definitely inspired me and showed me what it takes to be the best player you can be. The work ethic, the dedication, the mindset. He challenged me to be better,” she explained.
Incredible record in the NBA
Double NBA champion with those in purple and gold and six times selected for the All-Star, Gasol is the main protagonist of the ceremony that will take place at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles during the game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Lakers. Memphis Grizzlies, Pau’s other great team during his fabulous career in the NBA.
The Spaniard’s number 16 will thus join an illustrious and very exclusive list of retired numbers that includes Lakers heroes such as ‘Magic’ Johnson’s number 32, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 33, Shaquille O’Neal’s 34 or Jerry West’s 44.
Although without a doubt the most important thing for the man from Sant Boi is to see his name and number together with those of his ‘brother’, the late Kobe Bryant with the 8 and 24.
“Just to be in this select and exceptional group of players and legends of this sport and this franchise is a huge recognition. It’s hard to put a name to it,” he stated.