LA Lakers retire Pau Gasol's No. 16 jersey

Pau Gasol looks on during his jersey retirement ceremony during the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 7, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)

By Brian Yalung

The Los Angeles Lakers officially retired the No. 16 jersey of Pau Gasol on Tuesday (Mar. 7) night (Wednesday morning, Mar. 8, in Manila) at halftime of the Lakers game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol joined the purple and gold in 2008 and helped power the Lakers to back-to back championships in 2009 and 2010.

American journalist and renowned book author, Roland Lazenby said the honor was befitting for the six-time NBA All-Star.

“It’s a wonderful thing for Pau to have his number retired. It reflects the role he played in the Lakers’ resurgence to win two more championships and actually to make three trips to the NBA Finals in the back half of Kobe Bryant’s career. In that regard, Pau played a huge role in everything,” Lazenby stated.

Authored of several books such as “The Lakers: A Basketball Journey (1993)” and “Mad Game, The NBA Education of Kobe Bryant (2000),” Lazenby dissected how Gasol managed to fit into the Lakers’ system at that time, particularly the triangle offense.

"It always takes a lot of time to learn the triangle. Anytime a pro player comes to it, it could have as much as a two year learning curve. But Pau Gasol showed he was a quick learner,” said 71-year-old scribe.

However, it was the ability of Gasol to get along with Kobe Bryant that Lazenby believed made a difference. He pointed out how the Spaniard came into the picture during a time when the “Black Mamba” was dealing with issues on and off the court.

“Pau was essential in Kobe rebuilding his name and his game. And Kobe as you know before Pau had arrived, those teams had not done well,” the American scribe said.

"Some don’t look at Pau as a thirsty competitor but he had that in him and Kobe was a master at getting that out of him,” Lazenby added. In all, Lazenby ended by saying that the honor of having his jersey retired only shows how vital the Spaniard was both for Kobe Bryant and the Lakers from 2008 to 2010.

“These honors for Pau Gasol, they resonate so well. It means so much to the long term view of the thing. He was the perfect ally for Kobe as others from those Lakers teams from 2008 through 2010,” Lazenby ended.