Pau Gasol is an advisor, an investor and an activist in projects related to sports and well-being. He played professional basketball for 20 years in the NBA, on the Spanish National Team and in Spain’s ACB league. He is president of the Gasol Foundation, a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission, and a UNICEF Global Champion for Nutrition and Zero Childhood Obesity.
Pau Gasol began his professional basketball career at FC Barcelona. In those early years the team won the ACB league championship twice (1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons) and won Spain’s Copa del Rey de Baloncesto once (2000-2001).
When he returned to the club 20 years later (in 2021), at the request of coach Saras Jasikevicius, the team finished second in the EuroLeague. Later that year, he announced his retirement from professional basketball.
From 2017 to 2020 he was vice-president of the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association). He was one of the few players on its Executive Committee who hadn’t previously been in the NCAA. For 65 years the NBPA has been protecting the rights and defending the interests of NBA players. It also gives out some annual prizes, the Players Voice Awards (in 2015 Pau received the Global Impact Player award).
In 2001, Pau was selected in the third round of the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, who then transferred those rights to the Memphis Grizzlies. Pau became only the second Spanish player to reach the NBA. During his first season with the Grizzlies, he earned the Rookie of the Year award, becoming the first non-US player to receive this distinction.
In 2006, Pau was the first Spanish player to take part in an NBA All-Star Game, in Houston, marking the first of his six appearances in this unique event. After moving to the L.A. Lakers in February of 2008, Pau won two NBA championships, one in 2009 and one in 2010.
Spanish national team
As a member of the Spanish national basketball team, Pau has earned numerous distinctions, including three Olympic medals: in Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He also helped Spain win gold in the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where he was named MVP. And, he helped Spain win three European Championships (2009, 2011 and 2015), earning the MVP award in two of them. During the 2017 Eurobasket, Pau became the highest scorer of all time in a single year. In the summer of 2021 he competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games, his fifth Games. During the Tokyo Games, he was elected by the Olympic Athletes to represent them as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. He is currently serving an eight-year term on the commission.
Pau’s contributions have also been recognized with other awards. The Prince of Asturias Sports Prize went to the Spanish National Basketball team in 2006, during his time with the team. In 2015, the Princess of Asturias Sports Prize recognized the brilliant careers of Pau and his brother Marc after they faced off against each other in the first jump ball between brothers in an NBA All-Star game and were each included in the league’s best teams.
Pau has also been recognized for his contributions off the court. In 2012, he won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given to the player or coach who renders outstanding service to the community. In 2015, he received the National Basketball Players Association Global Impact Player award. That award recognized his leadership, his global presence, his philanthropic work with children and families all over the world through the Gasol Foundation and UNICEF, and his work with children’s hospitals in all the cities where he has lived. Also in 2015, Spains’ King Felipe VI awarded Pau the Camino Real Award of the Instituto Franklin, which recognizes the work of Spaniards who enhance the positive image of Spain in the United States.
In 2021, Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport awarded him the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sports Merit. That same year, the Government of Catalonia awarded Pau the Creu de Sant Jordi (St. George’s Cross), one of the highest honors that Catalonia can bestow on an individual.
In 2023 he received the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award for his work in support of women’s basketball and opportunities for women and girls in sports.
That same year, he won the Bob Lanier Community Service Award by the NBA Legends Awards for his work to make a positive impact on society by promoting healthy habits and advocating for children’s health and wellness. In March of that same year, the Angeles Lakers retired his number 16 jersey. In early April, he was elected into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023.
In 2013 Pau published his first book, Life/Vida, which contained previously unseen photos taken over the course of four years and declarations from some of the world’s leading basketball players.
An avid reader and amateur writer, in 2018 Pau launched his second book, Bajo el Aro, (Under the Hoop) in which he shares his experiences and lessons in victory and defeat from his long career.
In 2021, Amazon Prime launched the four-episode docuseries Pau Gasol: It’s About the Journey, presenting his professional career and projects off the court