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Pau Gasol made a special appearance at the Liceu Theatre in Barcelona this Tuesday to announce his retirement from professional basketball.
"It’s a hard decision after so many years, but it’s one I have thought about a lot" he said. "I have to change gear and enjoy this. I wanted to finish as a player and enjoying myself, not because of injury. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped to make this happen. It was very special to win the league with the club where it all started for me. Thank you very much."
Explaing the reasons that drove him to make this decision, he said that "in May I decided to have an operation, I signed for Portland in the hope of playing for six months, but a new facture appeared in the same bone. I had to think it all over again, and we decided on a new operation, and it wasn't clear at the time whether I’d be able to play again. I am a person who likes challenges, I wanted to fight against the impossible. I so much wanted to play in front of my daughter and we worked hard for that. I was taking it easy, and also hopeful.
"The chance came up to play for Barça, something I hadn’t expected. I thank you for giving me that chance. It was one of the nicest times of my career. It was also very special to play for Spain again, even though we didn’t win a medal."
"After such a long career there are so many people to thank" he added. "Team-mates, coaches, doctors, fans, thre press... I thank you all."
Gasol made his Barça debut in 1998/99, playing three games, while it was in 1999/00 that he made his senior team breakthrough under Aito Garcia Reneses. In his first era at the club, he won two ACB Leagues (1999 and 2001) and one Copa del Rey (2001).
In 2000/01, he was MVP of the Copa del Rey and the ACB final, at a time when he was playing alongside Sarunas Jasikevicius and Nacho Rodríguez.
Gasol was just 21 when he was a number 3 pick in the NBA Draft and in 2001/02 he joined the Memphis Grizzlies, where he stayed until 2008. He then moved to the Los Angeles Lakers for his most glorious period, winning two NBA championships (2009 and 2010).
He left Los Angeles in 2014 for the Chicago Bulls (2014-16), San Antonio Spurs (2016-19) and the Milwaukee Bucks (2019), where he played his final NBA games. He was alongside Nikola Mirotic for two seasons in Chicago and a few months in Milwaukee. He totalled 1,226 regular season and 136 playoff games in the USA.
He ended his career with half a season at Barça, 2020/21, appearing in 23 games (16 in the ACB and 7 in the EuroLeague), reaching the European final and winning the domestic league.
Ever since his 2001 debut, Gasol has been a lynchpin of the Spanish national side, winning Eurobasket three times (2009, 2011 and 2015), and the World Championship once (2006), as well as medalling at three Olympic Games (Silver: 2008 and 2012; Bronze: 2016).
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