Tuesday (March 8) night, Pau Gasol's jersey was officially retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. His jersey was unveiled in the rafters, right next to the late Kobe Bryant's, his former teammate and close friend.
The Laker legend delivered an emotional heartfelt speech during the ceremony at Crypto.com Arena, thanking the Lakers organization and the fanbase. Gasol also thanked Kobe's wife, Vanessa Bryant, telling her he loves her and is "proud to be an uncle" to her "lovely girls."
"I can't go on without talking about the person and the face that I don't see," referring to Kobe, who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020 at 41. "The brother that elevated me, inspired me, challenged me to be a better player – just to be a better man overall," Gasol added.
He continued, "I miss him so much, like many of us do. I love him; I wish he was here with Gigi, I really do. But, I think he'll be proud and he was looking forward to this moment. I love you, brother." In a clip the NBA shared on that night, Kobe was seen sharing his excitement for Gasol's retirement ceremony. "I really look forward to the day when he's there giving his speech at center court, in front of all the fans who have supported him over the years," said Kobe. "It's going to be an awesome night."
Gasol was drafted into the NBA in 2001 and began playing for the Los Angeles Lakers after he was traded to the team in 2008. He played for the team until 2014 alongside Kobe, winning championships for the team in 2009 and 2010.