Since being acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2007-08 season, Pau Gasol has been a force for the Los Angeles Lakers. He wasn’t a superstar at the time but when he came to L.A., he established himself as one of the most skilled players in the NBA. It begs the question; will he have his jersey retired in the future?
Before Gasol arrived, the Lakers were in turmoil. The Lakers lacked big-name talent outside of Kobe Bryant, and because of that they weren’t able to fully establish themselves as championship favorites like the Boston Celtics. As soon as Gasol was acquired, the Lakers turned it all around. Bryant was the only bright spot for the Lakers before and with Gasol’s help, they went on a tear.
Bryant ended up winning the MVP award and the Lakers were on a fast track to the NBA Finals. Coming over from Memphis, Gasol averaged 18.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Down the stretch Gasol was dominant until the NBA Finals. Matching up with Kevin Garnett was no easy feat and unfortunately for the Lakers, the Celtcs were too much. After losing to the Celtics, the media began to criticize Gasol about his toughness.
Gasol came back and dominated. In the 2008-09 season, Gasol averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. He was a main force in the Lakers beating the Orlando Magic. During the series, Gasol played tough and the critics were silenced. Gasol had an equally impressive season the year after. Only this time it ended with Gasol having a chance at redemption.
The Lakers met the Celtics once more and beat them in seven games. Gasol played so well in that series some people believe that he should have won the Finals MVP instead of Bryant.
If it wasn’t for Gasol, the Lakers wouldn’t have been so dominant making three straight Finals appearances and winning two Championships. The Lakers are all about winning and with that in mind, Gasol deserves a spot next to Lakers greats. It’s only fitting that Gasol and Bryant have their jerseys hanging next to each other.