Vanessa Bryant surprised the Lakers’ arena with never-before-seen footage of Kobe Bryant as his friend and fellow former teammate Pau Gasol’s Lakers jersey was retired on Tuesday.
Gasol, who won two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010 with The Lakers, became emotional during the ceremony. Additionally, Gasol, who played alongside the late Kobe Bryant, will have his retired jersey hang alongside Bryant’s.
Pau Gasol's Lakers jersey gets retired next to Kobe Bryant's 💛💜#BBCNBA pic.twitter.com/taMcZ2MsRH
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 8, 2023
Vanessa Bryant Shares Kobe’s Surprise Message To Pau Gasol At Jersey Retirement Ceremony
Introducing Pau for Tuesday’s ceremony, Vanessa Bryant shared a sweet message to Gasol that played in the Crypto.com arena at the start of the dedication. Following Vanessa Bryant’s introduction, was an old clip from 2016 of Bryant predicting the jersey retirement of Gasol.
“There’s no debating how when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine. The reality is, I don’t win those championships without Pau… And I really look forward to the day when he’s there giving his speech at center court…” Kobe predicted in the rare clip from his own 2016 ceremony.
Together in the rafters 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/24JHyDeBeD
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 8, 2023
“I don’t win those championships without Pau. When he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine”
I wish Kobe was here today to celebrate 😭
— LakeShowYo (@LakeShowYo) March 8, 2023
Pau Gasol Gets Emotional As Lakers Retire His #16 Jersey
Pau Gasol’s #16 jersey was retired as Los Angeles Lakers owners and players gathered to pay homage to his legacy on the team before the Lakers’ 112-103 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
Gasol thanked the arena for the acknowledgment of his impact on the team. However, he explained that he wouldn’t be able to continue without acknowledging his late friend Kobe Bryant.
Additionally, the 7-foot former Laker shared how he would have liked to share this moment with Bryant and his late daughter Gigi.
“But I can’t go on without talking about the person and the face I don’t see — the brother that elevated me, inspired me, challenged me to be a better player. Just to be a better man overall.”
Gasol became emotional as the attendees began to chant Kobe’s name.
“I miss him so much like many of us do. I love him. I wish he was here with Gigi. I really do… but I think he’ll be proud. And he was looking forward to this moment, so I love you brother.”
Vanessa Bryant Recently Honored Gasol At The 2023 NBA All-Star Game
In addition to Gasol’s jersey retirement on Tuesday, the 42-year-old was also honored at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 19. During the event, the WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Vanessa Bryant presented Gasol with the 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award.
WNBA Commissioner @CathyEngelbert and Vanessa Bryant present @NBA legend @paugasol with the 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award 🧡 pic.twitter.com/fep1Ozz7fi
— WNBA (@WNBA) February 20, 2023
Additionally, Gasol took to his official social media accounts to share his reaction to the honor.
I’m so incredibly touched and very grateful to @CathyEngelbert @WNBA Commissioner, and my dear sister Vanessa Bryant for this amazing honor. I'm committed to growing women's basketball and carrying on Kobe and Gigi's legacy. #PlayGigisWay #KobeAndGigiAward pic.twitter.com/DehxgVd2sY
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 20, 2023