Pau Gasol (Barcelona, July 6, 1980) is a Spanish professional basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In 2001 he became the second Spanish player ever to join the NBA – after Fernando Martín – and in 2006 he was the first Spaniard chosen to play an All-Star Game (in Houston). He was also the first to classify for the playoffs (with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2003-04) and to win the NBA’s championship (twice, with the L.A. Lakers in 2008-09 and 2009-10).
Gasol was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall pick in the first Round of the 2011 NBA Draft but his rights were traded to Memphis. He currently holds the Grizzlies franchise records for field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. After seven seasons with the team, Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008 in exchange for Kwame Brown (number 1 in the 2001 NBA Draft), Javaris Crittenton and Aaron McKie, two first rounds of the 2008 and 2010 NBA Drafts, and his brother Marc was sent to the Grizzlies in the deal.
On 13 May 2009 Pau Gasol was chosen to join the all-NBA Third Team, and then again in 2010. In 2011 he was chosen for the all-NBA Second Team.
He became the first non-American player to become the NBA Rookie of the Year, in 2002 with Memphis.
Pau Gasol began playing basketball in his school, Col•legi Llor, and he eventually signed for CB Cornellà, which was FC Barcelona’s feeder club. Pau found it hard to combine his studies with professional sport. He played as a point guard for CB Cornellà, which helped him to develop his great control of the ball. He measured 1.85 meters.
When he was sixteen, he began playing for Barcelona’s junior team, and with them he become the Spanish Junior Champion. Pau was also chosen to play in the lower categories of the Spanish national team.
Pau was a member of the Spanish team that won both the 1998 Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. Many American universities were impressed by Pau’s game and offered him scholarships to study and play basketball in the US. Surprisingly, Pau’s appearances on the court had always been quite short: it was his height, his wingspan and his coordination that caught the eye of the American observers. Although Pau was attracted by the idea of living and playing in the US, he decided to stay in Spain.
Gasol was a member of the Spanish junior national team that won the junior Eurobasket championship in 1998 and the junior world championship in 1999, defeating the U.S. team in the final.
After promotion to the Barcelona senior team, Pau Gasol played in the ACB League. However, he made few appearances in the 1999-00 season. This situation changed dramatically in the next season as he had to substitute Barça’s star player Rony Seikaly, who was injured. Pau had great success in the ACB’s playoffs, in the Copa del Rey in Málaga and in the MVP. However, the team didn’t qualify for the Euroleague as they were defeated by Benetton Treviso in a game that Pau missed due to appendicitis.
In total, his averages were 11.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 23.8 minutes in the regular league. Many NBA franchises were interested in him, and he declared himself eligible for the 2001 NBA Draft after winning the bronze medal during the Eurobasket championships in Turkey.
The Draft forecasts situated Pau between the 10th and the 15th position. He decided to stay for another year in Barcelona, as he couldn’t rescind his contract because he wasn’t in the top 10 positions. However, he became the first player not raised in the US to be chosen in such a high position of the Draft, as he was selected in the third 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Right after this, Gasol moved to the Memphis Grizzlies with Lorenzen Wright and Brevin Knight in exchange for the rights of the then franchise player, Shareef Abdur-Rahim. On 1 October 2001 Pau made his official debut with the number 16 on his back. His rights were finally sold to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he played for six and a half seasons.
In his first season he played against Detroit Pistons, and he scored his first two points with a slam dunk after Jason Williams’s assist. He ended up scoring 4 points. Pau was in the starting line-up against the Phoenix Suns because of Stromile Swift’s injury, and he scored 27 points. From that point onwards, he was a fixture in the team.
In Gasol's first season with the Grizzlies, he won the Rookie of the Year Award and was named in the All-Rookie first team. He averaged 17.6 points, 2.7 assists, 2.06 blocks and 8.9 rebounds per game, and was also the only team member to play in all 82 games that season. He was also in the best starting five of the Rookies. He was the highest-scoring player in 37 matches, and the highest rebounder in 43. He scored more than 20 points in 30 matches, and more than 30 points in three. He joined the All Star show and he played the Rookie Challenge – his team won, thanks to his 10 points and his 7 rebounds.
His best performance came on 5 April, with 32 points scored (his best so far) and 14 rebounds against the Houston Rockets. He had his best rebound result (17) against the Orlando Magic. He also did a slam dunk against his favorite player, Kevin Garnett, who had applauded Gasol after passing him in the previous play. The entire Pyramid cheered Gasol despite the Grizzlies’ defeat.
The team had a 23-59 balance in a transition season. Bryant Reeves and Michael Dickerson, two of the best of the Grizzlies' players, were injured and had to retire from professional basketball.
He made his debut with the full national team on 15 August, 2001 in a friendly against Greece, scoring 20 points in total.
He won a European Championship bronze medal in Turkey 2001. The Spanish national team beat Germany and were beaten by Yugoslavia and Turkey. Pau scored 121 points in 7 matches.
During this season, Gasol slightly increased his scores, with an overall average of 19 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. However, he played almost a minute and a half less, due to the rotation policy introduced by the new trainer, Hubie Brown.
Gasol was an ever-present for the Grizzlies that season. He came 9th for throw percentages in the league list (51%), 10th for doubles-doubles (32), 12th in rebounds (8.8), 14th in blocks (1.8) and 30th for average scores (19).
He averaged 22.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks during January. He equaled his points record on three other occasions, against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. He also played in the rookies and sophomores All Star game in 2003, bettering his previous score with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Possibly his best game that year was against Boston Celtics on 3 March 2003, with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
That season the team reached the playoffs for the first time, after a 50-32 in the regular league. With Brown’s policy, Pau had fewer minutes on court (from 36 to 31) and so his results were poorer: 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists. During the playoffs, the Grizzlies were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs (4-0) with some very low results for Pau: 18.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
He missed his first match in the NBA because of an injury, after playing 240 matches consecutively on court (the 6th best run ever). During this season he had his best overall results for points, rebounds and blocks so far. Against the Cleveland Cavaliers he scored 37 points on 29 November. Against the Phoenix Suns, he did 18 rebounds, equaling the franchise’s record. By 31 October 2003 he reached 3,000 points and by 12 November, he had made 1,500 rebounds.
He won a European Championship silver medal in Sweden 2003. The Spanish national team played against Lithuania in the finals and Pau scored 155 points in 6 matches.
The team got into the playoffs with a balance of 45-37. In this season, Brown retired for health reasons, and was substituted by Lionel Hollins. After Hollins, Mike Fratello was hired. Under Fratello's training, the team won 40 matches and lost 26. He based the team’s success on the defense, long possessions, and basket-control. Gasol couldn’t really shine with these methods but they were successful for the team. Gasol played for 32 minutes, and scored 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists. His scores were even higher in the post season: 21.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.3 minutes. However, the team had the same result: 4-0 against the Phoenix Suns.
Gasol was declared player of the week in the Western Conference from 27 December to 2 January, for his results: 23.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks. He played his best match of the season against the Sixers, with 34 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1 steal. But during the season, Pau had a serious injury and missed 23 matches due to a plantar fasciitis. On 12 November, he made 5 blocks during the first part of the game against the Golden State Warriors. On 11 January, he scored 31 points and 4 blocks against Indiana Pacers. With these results, Pau surpassed 5,000 points and 500 blocks in his career.
Gasol was the first Spanish player to be selected to join the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston. He was also the first Grizzlies player to make it. He managed to make 12 rebounds.
He played again in the playoffs but the team didn’t qualify: they lost 4-0 against Dallas Mavericks for the third consecutive time. Pau scored 20.3 points, made 6.8 rebounds and 3 assists, in 39.5 minutes.
He scored most of the team's points on 40 occasions; he made 44 rebounds, 49 blocks and 39 assists. He was 19th in the league for points, 17th for rebounds, 13th for blocks and 11th for minutes. He got his best result ever scoring 44 points against Seattle Supersonics on 28 March. He got his first triple-double against the Sonics with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
He was declared Western Conference player of the week on two occasions and he became the best rebounder in the franchise's history, with 3,072 rebounds. One of his most memorable matches that season was the one where he faced Dirk Nowitzki and won with 36 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. He scored winning baskets against the Golden State Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks.
At the World Basketball Championship in Japan in 2006, he won the gold medal, was selected for the All-Tournament Team and the competition and was named MVP. However, the championship took its toll and he suffered a serious foot injury that kept him out of the final. As a member of the national team, he received the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, and he was also nominated for the individual award.
Pau missed the 2005 European Championships in Serbia, when he was recovering from foot injury (though he attended the tournament as a commentator for Spanish television)
Gasol suffered an injury in the semifinals of the Japan World Cup vs Argentina and had to miss the beginning of the season (23 matches). After his comeback his rebound scores improved: He finished the season with 20.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 blocks. These results were his best ever. However, his team won only 22 matches and lost 60.
Pau was world champion in 2006. The Spanish national team beat Greece in the finals, but Pau got injured during the semifinals, playing against Argentina. In all, he scored 170 points, 75 rebounds and 11 assists.
The team replaced Mike Fratello with Tony Barone, who trained them to attack more. In December, Pau's average was above 17 points. In January, he scored 21.9 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.7 blocks. In February, 21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 blocks. In March, 21.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2 blocks. In April, 20.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2 blocks. Against the L.A. Lakers, he had his best scores, with 35 points and 15 rebounds in March.
In the match against the Toronto Raptors, in March 2007, Gasol needed 9 points to overcome Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s record of 7,801 points for a Grizzlies player. He ended the match with 16 points.
Pau Gasol was traded to the L.A. Lakers on 1 February 2008. With the Lakers he has won two NBA rings (2009, 2010) along with a 2010 second round draft pick in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks.
He made his Lakers debut on February 5 against the New Jersey Nets, during which he scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds in a 105–90 win. After the match, Kobe Bryant declared “Pau Gasol is incredible”. After Pau’s arrival, the L.A. Lakers won 29 out of 37 matches. The team won 22 matches and lost 5 when Pau was playing, but he missed 10 matches due to a sprained ankle. Pau scored 18.9 points, made 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 blocks during this season (for Memphis and the Lakers).
In the playoffs, the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 4-0. Gasol was the star of the first game: He scored the most points (36), had the most rebounds (16), most assists (8) and most blocks (3). His average was 22.3 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2.8 blocks.
In the Conference Semifinals, the Lakers met Utah Jazz. They started with two victories, but the Jazz won their home games; the Lakers then managed to win one match at home and another one in Utah. With a score of 4-2, the Lakers qualified for the Finals of the Conference. During the Finals, the team won five matches against San Antonio Spurs. Gasol was the first Spaniard ever to play in the NBA Finals. In the last match against the Spurs, Pau got his best results for rebounds in one match: 19.
Gasol ended the playoffs with the second highest scores for points (16.9), rebounds (9.3) and assists (4) of the Lakers team. He was also the best blocker (1.90 blocks per game) and the player with most doubles-doubles during the postseason. His number of doubles-doubles (10) was only equaled by Lamar Odom.
He won a European Championship silver medal in Spain 2007. The Spanish national team were defeated by Russia. Pau scored 169 points in 9 matches.
Marc Gasol joined his brother in the NBA during season 2008-09. Pau played an official game against his brother at the FedExForum in Memphis. It was the first time two non-American brothers had played against each other on the basketball court.
On 2 January 2009 Pau Gasol scored the 10,000th point of his career in a match against Utah Jazz. Only one European player (Dirk Nowitzki) has scored as many points in a shorter time.
On 29 January, the NBA announced the list of the players who would play in the Phoenix All-Star Weekend. Pau Gasol was to play for the Western Conference. The Spanish player had also been declared Western Conference player of the week from 2 to 8 February with 26 points and 13.9 rebounds. Two weeks later, he won the same award again for his results: 20.3 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and one block. His best move was the triple double he made against the Atlanta Hawks, with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. He won Western Conference player of the month, averaging 20.9 points, with a throwing efficiency of 58.6% and 10.9 rebounds.
In the Phoenix All Star Weekend, Gasol scored 14 points and 8 rebounds, helping the West to beat the East (146-119).
On June 15 2009, Pau Gasol became the first Spanish player to win a NBA ring with the L.A. Lakers, after defeating Orlando Magic, in the fifth match of the final series. In the fifth and last match, Pau scored 14 points, caught 15 rebounds and scored 4 blocks.
Pau won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Overall, he socred 157 points, 56 rebounds and 14 assists. The US team won the gold medal.
In December 2010, Pau Gasol signed a three-year contract with the Lakers.
Pau won a gold medal in a European Championship in Poland 2009, where he was chosen MVP. He scored 168 points, 75 rebounds and 11 assists.
Gasol played his third All-Star for the Western Conference and finished his regular season with 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 blocks in 65 matches. He suffered two muscle injuries in the first half of the season. Gasol caught 18 rebounds and scored the winning basket in the last second to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the sixth match of the first round. He scored 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in the Semifinals of the Conference against Utah Jazz. Gasol scored 19 points, caught 18 rebounds and scored two blocks in the 7th match of the NBA Finals. The L.A. Lakers were the NBA champions for the second time in a row.
He was the European champion in 2009.
Pau missed the World Championship in Turkey 2010 due to fatigue after many years of playing.
Gasol scored 18.8 points, caught 10.2 rebounds and made 3.3 assists in 82 matches. These results made him the leader of the L.A. Lakers . In February 2011 he played his fourth All-Star, and scored 17 points, caught 7 rebounds and played the crucial minutes of the match, helping his Conference to win.
The regular season ended with the L.A. Lakers recording the second best score of the Western Conference (57-25) and they qualified to play for the title. In the first round they played six matches against the New Orleans Hornets, winning (4-2). However, the Lakers didn’t make it to the second round of the Western Conference.
In this season, Gasol became established as the leader of the team. Kobe Bryant was injured during the first months of the season. Gasol received a fair amount of criticism as well for his low scores during the playoffs, when they were defeated by Oklahoma City Thunder.
He won another European Championship gold medal in Lithuania 2011. Pau was the European champion in 2011 and he scored 201 points. The Spanish national team beat France in the finals.
On 18 May 2012, before the third match against Oklahoma inthe Semifinals of the Western Conference, Gasol received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award for his social and charity work.
The season started with some defeats for the Lakers. The team was unable to win any matches during the preseason and won only one match out of the first six in the league. Mike D’Antoni was hired as the new trainer of the team. In November 2012, Gasol became the 10th non-American player to score 15,000 points.
In July 2012, Gasol was chosen to carry the Spanish flag for the Olympic Games.He won a silver medal at the Olympics in London in 2012, against a U.S. team packed with star players. During the Olympics he surpassed "Epi" (Juan Antonio San Epifanio) as Spain’s highest scorer in the Olympics. Pau was the runner-up at the Olympics. He scored 153 points, 61 rebounds and 23 assists.