One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Los Angeles Lakers throughout time has undoubtedly been their rich history of having elite talent. In particular, the team has had quite an impressive track record in terms of big men.
Former Lakers player Pau Gasol certainly deserves to have his name listed among that group of great Lakers bigs. Let alone that, though, he is also more than worthy of being talked about on a deeper level.
Gasol was recently selected as a finalist for what could be one of the most star-studded Hall of Fame classes ever. The Spaniard was listed alongside other international legends such as Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker. The potential 2023 inductees also include Dwyane Wade and coach Gregg Popovich.
Pau Gasol isn’t just a Lakers legend, he is also worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Since the turn of the century, Pau Gasol has definitely been one of the better ones to don the purple and gold. While some folks were quick to critique his game, it is hard to deny the sheer amount of skill he possessed.
Certainly, Gasol may not have necessarily been the monstrous, physical force that Shaquille O’Neal was in his prime. O’Neal was the equivalent of a brick wall down low and there is arguably no comparison to when it comes to him.
Said fact aside, Gasol dominated the game in a different way, per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. He was an intelligent ballplayer capable of shooting the rock outside of the paint. Considering his size as well, he was a very adept passer and did not make too many mistakes.
Aspects such as the latter made Gasol a more than likable teammate as well. Granted, he had the ability to get his own on any given night, but his team-first approach led to plenty of success in his career.
It is hard to disagree with the fact that his best moments came in a Lakers uniform. Upon getting traded to the squad, Gasol helped resurrect the team in a sense. The Lakers were back on the map and became a formidable opponent in the Western Conference once again.
Thanks in large part to Pau’s presence in the middle, the Lakers made three straight Finals appearances from 2008 to 2010. The 17-time time champions won the latter two of the three and got their vengeance against the rival Celtics in 2010.
Gasol’s international impact is every bit as crucial to his Hall of Fame credentials. Via NBA.com, Gasol is EuroBasket’s all-time leading scorer. He also helped lead his native country to three Olympic medals.
Although the United States (to this very day) tends to be heavily favored in international competition, the Spanish national team seemed to always give the U.S. a major battle. Indubitably, Gasol played a significant role in making that possible, thus helping to further mold and globalize the sport.
In doing so, it is safe to say that players like No. 16 really assisted in opening up the minds of others. What he did could possibly inspire someone within the next generation of athletes to push the boundaries of the human spirit. That is part of the beauty of Pau’s journey.
What honestly stands out about Pau Gasol, however, is who he is as a person. Anyone who has followed the man to some extent realizes that despite his 7-foot frame, his heart is truly his biggest asset.
In the wake of the news that he was named a Hall of Fame finalist, Gasol gave a former teammate of his ultimate props. According to Anthony Riccobono of ClutchPoints, the six-time All-Star believes Kobe Bryant is largely to thank for his HOF nomination.
Needless to say, Bryant is an inner circle Hall of Famer whose accomplishments are nearly second to none. That being said, the fact Gasol had such a tremendously gifted teammate is worth mentioning for sure.
At the same time, Bryant and Gasol’s respective games complemented each other so well on the hardwood. Due to their chemistry, it gave the Lakers one of the league’s deadliest duos for multiple seasons.
Following the exciting announcement, the former power forward/center spoke highly of Bryant’s influence (via Riccobono).
"“Every step of the way, he’s on my mind, he’s in my heart along with Gigi. And he’s going to be there forever,” Pau Gasol said Friday during All-Star Weekend in Utah, “I grew as a player, I played at a high level thanks to him, in great part.”“His leadership, his example, his approach really elevated my game, made me a better player,” Gasol continued. “My name, my number don’t go into those rafters without those championships. And we don’t win those championships without Kobe Bryant.”"
Such kind comments speak volumes about the bond he and Kobe shared. Moreover, it sheds light on Gasol’s demeanor and that he attributes his success to those around him.
Albeit Kobe and his daughter are gone, the Spaniard remains rather close with the Bryant family. Knowing that he has made a conscious effort to stay in touch says a lot about his character in itself.
Time will tell as to what occurs, but in view of the above-mentioned, Pau Gasol’s case should not be too difficult to decide. The man is more than worthy of being enshrined in the Hall of Fame. This is an absolute slam dunk in every sense of the term.