"I never in a million years thought this moment would be possible"
"Kobe Bryant would be proud because he looked for this moment"
MADRID, 8 Mar. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The former Spanish player Pau Gasol, already a legend of the Lakers with his '16' retired in the Los Angeles fiefdom, assured in his thank you speech at the Crypto.com Arena that it is an "incredible honor" to see his number at the top of the pavilion and which is something that he would never have dreamed of, and even less to be together with the '24' of the late Kobe Bryant, who he remembered on several occasions.
"What an incredible feeling and what an incredible honor. I want to start by saying thank you Vanessa [Bryant], thank you for the video and the intro. You're here, you don't know how much this means to me. I love you sis. I'm proud to be your brother and an uncle for your beloved daughters", said Pau at the opening of his speech.
Moved, with tears in his eyes, he remembered Kobe Bryant. "I can't go on without talking about a person whose face I don't see here. A brother who lifted me up, who inspired me, challenged me to be a better player and person. I miss him so much, like many of you. I loved him, I wish he was here ; I would be proud because he sought this moment. I love you, brother," he said.
"I am overwhelmed to see all the faces, to see all of you here, all of you who are watching at home. I want to thank you, it has been an honor for me to wear this jersey, play for this franchise, for this team, for this city. ", the Catalan was sincere.
He assured that, as a child, he dreamed of being a basketball player and playing in the NBA. "But I never in a million years thought this moment would be possible, to live this great honor, to be with such important individuals in such an incredible franchise. It tells you there are no limits to what you can do, what you can get, you have to try to be the best you can be. That was the 'Mamba mentality'", he contributed in reference to his ex-partner.
"It seems like yesterday when I was here, in a seventh game of the Finals, beating the Celtics. What a night, what a day to remember, I will never forget it. I don't think you will either," he assured, again through tears due to the cheers of the fans in the pavilion, remembering the 2010 victory over the Celtics, executioner of the Lakers two years earlier.
Pau Gasol did not forget his family, teammates and coaching staff. "And I want to thank my family, my parents, my siblings. Thank you for being here and for inspiring me, supporting me throughout my life, for loving me. I love you," he said, looking at his parents and siblings, with Marc Gasol also visibly moved.
"This wouldn't be without my other family, the Lakers. Thank you Mr. Buss, Jeanie, for the vision of your family and what you do. Phil Jackson (your Lakers coach), thank you for encouraging your players to read Thank you for introducing me to mindfulness. I love you to death, you and all your family. To my teammates who are here, thank you for helping me, hugging me and hosting me. I hope you feel a piece of that jersey as yours Because it is," he said, looking at former teammates like Derek Fisher.
True to his principles, he ended his speech in this way: "To those who are given much, much is expected of them. So I will continue to commit my life to influencing others, to making a difference, to helping bulls, to make this world a better and healthier world. Thank you all".
At a press conference, collected from the NBA website, Gasol assured that he had done "everything he could" to enjoy and savor this moment. "Tonight exceeds any dream or expectation that he has had. Obviously, the fact that Kobe is up there adds something significant, powerful, sad, happy, painful and joyful. There are many things," he opened up.
"The excitement, the expectation, the honor received, everything is so great that it has been difficult to assimilate. I have to keep reminding myself that it is a celebration. It's fantastic. It's beautiful. It's great that you can experience this in your life," he added in this meaning that of Sant Boi de Llobregat.
Regarding what he felt when he saw his retired shirt, he recognized that life is sometimes the blink of an eye with unexpected gifts. "I mean, life goes by pretty fast, right? In the blink of an eye, you can be a kid playing basketball at your school with your friends, and all of a sudden, you're realizing your dream," she commented.
As for the other eleven players with retired jerseys in the Lakers, he said that a "common dominator" could be having given "something valuable" to the team. "I wouldn't dare compare myself to those great players that I have so much respect and honor for. Part of the reason I'm there is that I significantly helped the team win those championships," he said, referring to the champion's rings. 2009 and 2010.