After 19 years in the NBA, two championships and an accomplished international career, Pau Gasol announced his retirement from professional basketball on Tuesday.
Gasol, 41, had already revealed his intention to hang up his jersey for good in August following Spain’s run to the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympic Games. He made his official announcement on Tuesday afternoon in an opera house in his hometown of Barcelona.
“I’m going to retire from professional basketball,” Gasol said in Spanish during the press conference, per Tales Azzoni of the Associated Press. “It’s a difficult decision after so many years, but it’s a decision that I really thought over.”
Gasol has been a member of Spanish club FC Barcelona since February, which was also the team that he began his professional career with back in 1998.
Gasol rose to stardom in the NBA in the mid-2000’s with the Memphis Grizzlies, but a blockbuster trade in 2008 vaulted him into the national spotlight with the Los Angeles Lakers. Alongside his teammate and good friend, Kobe Bryant, the All-Star big man delivered two NBA championships to the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
NBA insider Shams Charania reported that the Lakers plan to retire Gasol’s No. 16 jersey that he wore during the team’s back-to-back championship victories.
The Los Angeles Lakers plan to retire Pau Gasol’s No. 16 jersey. https://t.co/rC4EgGEQ9l
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 5, 2021
Todos en pie para aplaudir a @paugasol. LEYENDA 👏👏
"Me retiro del baloncesto profesional. Es una decisión difícil pero es meditada, quería acabar jugando y disfrutando, no en muletas por una lesión".#GraciasPau pic.twitter.com/W2NNb3R08Y
— #Vamos de Movistar+ (@vamos) October 5, 2021
Gasol played for five different NBA teams after he was drafted with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2001 Draft. After stints with the Grizzlies and the Lakers, the six-time All-Star made stops with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks. He briefly signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019, but never played a game for the organization.
In 1,226 career regular-season NBA games, Gasol averaged 17 points and 9.2 rebounds. He made six All-Star teams, four All-NBA teams and was named the 2002 Rookie of the Year.
While Gasol may be best known for his accomplishments in the United States, basketball fans in Spain will remember him fondly as a focal point of the country’s national team for nearly two decades. Gasol won a world championship title with Spain alongside his brother, Marc, in 2006, along with Olympic silver medals in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, as well as a bronze medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
Without his playing career now in the rearview mirror, Gasol’s next stop should be the Basketball Hall of Fame.