NBA star Pau Gasol has officially announced his retirement from basketball.
The 41-year-old player shared in a statement, “I’m going to retire from professional basketball. It’s a difficult decision after so many years, but it’s a decision that I really thought over.” He also took to Twitter to share a retirement photo and the words “Dear basketball, thank you for everything” in Spanish and Catalan.
Gasol also took a moment to pay his respects to the late Kobe Bryant, who was his teammate while he was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, “I want to make a special mention to Kobe Bryant. I’d very much like him to be here but that’s life. He taught me how to be a better leader, better competitor, what it mean to be a winner.”
Figures in the league also responded to Gasol’s announcement, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stating:
“Pau Gasol is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished players of his generation. A two-time NBA champion, six-time NBA All-Star, three-time Olympic medalist and world champion, Paul inspired countless fans through his remarkable skill and passion for the game. But what sets Pau apart is his tireless commitment to giving back to his native Spain and other communities around the world, which he continues to make a priority. We congratulate Pau on an outstanding career and thank him for being such a dedicated ambassador for our league.”
Meanwhile, his former coach Phil Jackson, said that the effect of Gasol’s arrival in Los Angeles was “immediate”:
“Pau Gasol, brought hope and talent to the Lakers. The effect was immediate. His game put LA back into Championship contention. He was also gentleman and generous hero.”
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss confirmed on Twitter that the franchise will be retiring Gasol’s No. 16, “It was never a matter of IF we will retire #16 but WHEN. Congratulations on your retirement
The six-time NBA All-Star started his professional career in 1998 with FC Barcelona, then spent seven years with the Memphis Grizzlies until 2008. He was then traded to the Lakers where he won two NBA Championships and remained until 2014, then spent a few seasons with the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers before returning to FC Barcelona.
Elsewhere in sports, Klay Thompson expects to be a “very effective player” upon his return.
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