Pau Gasol is one of the most accomplished basketball players in history. He’s a six-time NBA All-Star, a two-time NBA champion, and a two-time Olympic silver medalist with the Spanish National Team. With his NBA and international pedigree, it’s fair to say that he’s one of the most decorated basketball players ever and has a career that will be hard to match. But is Pau Gasol in the Hall of Fame? Did he make it to the Hall of Fame?
Who is Pau Gasol?
Pau Gasol is a Spanish professional basketball player who American fans may know best as the 2002 Rookie of the Year winner from the Memphis Grizzlies and as Kobe Bryant’s lieutenant in the Laker’s heroic 2009 and 2010 Championships.
Early Professional Career
What most people don’t know about the Spanish big man is that he’s been a professional basketball player since 1998 when he played for the youth team of F.C. Barcelona. During those days, he was also a national team player as he played for Spain’s U18 team, which won it all at the FIBA Europe league.
At 21, the 7’0″ power forward mustered enough basketball experience with the F.C. Barcelona squad to finally win the Spanish National Championship in 2001. To top it off, he also won the tournament MVP that year.
Riding on a wave of success, Pau Gasol boldly declared for the NBA Draft in 2002. And because of the hype around the Spaniard, NBA teams took notice, and he was drafted third overall by the Memphis Grizzlies.
Memphis Grizzlies – Gasol would spend a large chunk of his career in Memphis, Tennessee, where he would become one of the core pieces of the franchise. He helped the Grizzlies, fresh from relocating from Vancouver, win over fans from the Grind City. And in just his second season with the team, he had helped turn the franchise from cellar dwellers to a 50-32 win team which helped them clinch the fourth playoff spot in a competitive Western Conference.
However, despite the regular season successes, the Grizzlies lacked the experience and manpower to make it out of the first round. Gasol would also suffer from minor injuries that led him to play less than 40 games in 2007-2008. So, the team decided to embark on a rebuilding phase and let go of the Spaniard in 2008 by trading him off to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kwame Brown, several other veterans, and a draft pick that would eventually be used to draft Pau’s younger brother Marc.
Los Angeles Lakers – Playing side-by-side with Kobe Bryant, Pau experienced the most success in his career with the Lakers. He helped bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to the City of Angels in the hard-fought Playoff campaigns of 2009 and in 2010.
Unfortunately, Gasol’s luck would run out after the 2010 Finals season as he suffered from injuries in 2011. Kobe would suffer a similar fate which ended the hopes for a threepeat for the duo.
Chicago Bulls – Realizing that the dominance of the Kobe-Pau era has come to a close, Gasol would be traded once more, this time to the Chicago Bulls with a lineup that included franchise player Derrick Rose and a young Jimmy Butler coached by Tom Thibodeau. The team, as constructed, however, would not translate into anything more than a Conference Semi-Finals appearance.
San Antonio Spurs & Milwaukee Bucks – At this point, it was clear that Pau was at the twilight of his career and, while still very productive, was not as effective a player as he was in his younger days. He would spend some time with the San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks before finding his way back to the F.C. Barcelona in 2020 for one final push for that championship experience. Unfortunately, Gasol would not be able to win the EuroLeague title.
Did Pau Gasol Make it as a Hall of Famer?
“Is Pau Gasol in the Hall of Fame?” is a question that no true basketball fan that managed to watch him has ever asked. From the beginning of his career in the Spanish league, it was obvious that he was special.
He has carved out a body of work in both the international scene and in the NBA that just does not leave any room for doubt about his contributions to the sport. He was a leader on every team he played for. And he played to win.
So, there is little question about his career being anything other than one that deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. And now that he’s officially eligible, he’s just been announced as a member of class 2023 Hall of Fame.
How Good Was Pau Gasol as a Player?
Pau Gasol is among the best power forwards ever to dribble a basketball. Unlike most of the big men in the NBA, he finessed his way around the basket for easy buckets instead of bullying his way in.
He may not have been the flashy or dominant player the fans were so hungry for, but he was always the steady hand that kept his teams together through thick and thin. His game was predicated on fundamentals, patience, and intelligence.
He knew how to get into position to score when the opportunity presented itself. He also knew when to pass the ball off in order to give his team a better chance of scoring.
It’s no surprise that in the end, Pau Gasol ended up with NBA career averages of 17 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 3.2 assists per game. These numbers tell you that he was an elite player. And, if we stack these numbers up against some of the best big men of all time, such as Tim Duncan, then it becomes clear that Gasol belongs in the pantheon of NBA power forwards.
Pau Gasol’s Impact on the NBA
The versatile Spanish big man made an impact in the league in two ways:
Firstly, and most obviously, he impacted basketball games with his skill and presence. He was a high-scoring big man armed with a deadly jump shot who could defend the paint like the best big men in the league. Secondly, he influenced how NBA coaches, players, and fans looked at European players.
Championships are the ultimate barometer of a player in the NBA. However, the way Gasol and Bryant won in 2009 and 2010 cements them as one of the best duos the league has ever produced.
His impact in the NBA wasn’t only felt when he was with the Lakers, though. For example, his stint with the Grizzlies also laid the groundwork for growing the team’s following in Tennessee. It could be argued that the winning ways Gasol introduced into the franchise were the precursor to the team’s famous Grit and Grind era.
However, more than anything, Gasol’s impact on the league is best felt by the European players that came to the league after him. His success helped the league become more open to European talents. He proved that how the game is played across the pond can also work in the NBA.
Wrapping Things Up: Is Pau Gasol in the Hall of Fame?
Pau Gasol’s basketball credentials make it difficult to find a reason for the BHOF Selection Committees not to include his name in the ballot. So, when he became eligible, the BHOF immediately came knocking on his door.
And even now that he’s retired from playing, he’s still finding ways to contribute to the sport. He’s currently serving as a Global Envoy for the FIBA World Cup, an International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission member, and a UNICEF Champion for Nutrition, according to his website. If he continues on this path, we may find him re-enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
If you’re interested in learning Pau Gasol’s story, check out this basketball biography book.
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