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Pau Gasol (born July 6, 1980) is the starting power forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. The 7’0″ Spaniard was born to Marisa Sáez and Agustí Gasol at Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona. Accordingly, Pau’s parents named him after the hospital. Both of his parents played second-division basketball in Spain. Pau initially pursued a medical career after learning that his idol—Magic Johnson—was diagnosed with HIV. But once Pau became the star of FC Barcelona’s junior squad, he realized that basketball could potentially become a serious career and dropped out after a year of medical school to fully focus on basketball.
Beyond his gifted height, Pau’s basketball IQ and unselfishness helped him become one of the finest players in Europe and caught the attention of many NBA scouts.
Subsequently, Pau entered the 2001 draft and was selected third overall by the Atlanta Hawks. Billy Knight, then the GM of the Memphis Grizzlies, saw vast potential in the giant from Spain and traded for Pau without hesitation shortly after the draft.
Pau did not disappoint, as he earned Rookie of the Year honors in the 2001-2002 season while averaging 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Gasol also earned his first of four All-Star appearances in 2006 with the Grizzlies—a season in which he averaged 20.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists.
Traded to Lakers
On February 1, 2008, Pau’s career would take a dramatic turn as the Grizzlies traded Pau mid-season to the Lakers for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and the rights to his younger brother, Marc Gasol. That season, Pau would help Kobe and the Lakers advance to the NBA Finals before eventually being ousted by the Boston Celtics in six games.
The following season, Pau continued to be an integral part of the Lakers as the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in five games during the 2009 NBA Finals. Pau’s defense on now-Laker Dwight Howard was also an often overlooked contribution. Pau established himself as the second element to the “one-two punch” between him and Kobe Bryant. This, in turn, helped Kobe earn his fourth championship, and Pau’s first. Pau’s play earned him his second All-Star selection during the season and an All-NBA Third Team selection.
During the following season (2009-2010), Pau once again provided the second half of the “one-two punch” to help the Lakers defeat the Celtics in seven games of the 2010 NBA Finals, effectively winning his second ring. Pau once again earned an All-Star selection during the season and an All-NBA Third Team selection.
During the 2010-2011 season, Pau earned his fourth—and most recent—All-Star selection. Additionally, Pau was selected to his first All-NBA Second Team selection.
Averaging career numbers of 18.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game, Pau has gained the reputation of being extremely consistent, versatile, and the ultimate team player.
Off the court, Pau has gained the reputation of being an outstanding role model, even earning the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2012.
Spanish National Team
Pau is often the focal point of Spain’s national team. Pau has earned two Silver Medals (2008 and 2012) in the Olympics; a Gold Medal in the 2006 FIBA World Championship; and two Gold, two Silver, and one Bronze FIBA European Championships between 2001-2011.
Pau has earned various international achievements as well, including seven European Player of the Year awards: two Mister Europa Player of the Year (2004, 2009), two FIBA Europe Player of the Year (2008, 2009), and three Euroscar Player of the Year (2008-2010) awards. Additionally, he was named the Spanish League Finals MVP in 2001, the Spanish King’s Cup MVP in 2001 as well, the FIBA World Championship MVP in 2006, and the EuroBasket MVP in 2009.
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