José Ignacio Pinilla
The forging of a legend
Pau Gasol’s NBA story began on 27 June 2001, when the Atlanta Hawks drafted him at No. 3 - and immediately traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gasol made his NBA debut for the Grizzlies that November, scoring four points and registering four rebounds in 17 minutes on court.
The then-21-year-old went on to average 17.6 points in a stellar first season in Memphis, earning him the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.
Gasol continued to excel in the NBA in the seasons that followed, earning more awards, a multi-million-dollar extension and a first All-Star selection.
8 March 2006 is a date forever circled in red in Spanish basketball: Gasol claimed his first NBA triple-double, in a win over the Seattle Supersonics.
In February 2008, the Grizzlies traded Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers, marking the beginning of an illustrious chapter in the Spaniard’s career.
In his time with the Lakers, Gasol won two NBA championship rings. The first arrived in 2009, after victory over the Orlando Magic in the finals.
He didn’t have to wait long for the second: it came the year after, when the Lakers beat eternal rivals the Boston Celtics in the title decider.
In 2014, Gasol’s memorable spell in LA came to a close. He packed his bags for Chicago, where he would spend three seasons with the Bulls.
In the Windy City, he registered his best ever points tally in a single game, racking up 46 in a 2015 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
The following year, Gasol departed the Bulls to sign for another historic NBA franchise, joining Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs.
After a brief swan song at the Milwaukee Bucks, a foot injury and the pandemic meant the curtain came down on Gasol's NBA career in 2019.