Pau Gasol: “Reaching the Hall of Fame is a unique sensation, difficult to describe” | Sports

Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol during the press conference on the eve of joining the NBA Hall of Fame, that Friday.CJ GUNTHER (EFE)

As of today, the golden generation of Spanish basketball has its first player in the Hall of Fame. The venue located in Springfield, the city where the game was invented, celebrates this weekend the career of a dozen personalities, including five players who add 10 championship rings and 39 appearances in All Star games, as well as five coaches with nearly 5,000 wins. Among them is Pau Gasol (43 years old, Barcelona), who took his first steps with the sport in basketball courts near the Sagrada Familia that were guarded by his grandparents. “Arriving here is a unique sensation, it is difficult to describe, but I am very excited,” he said in Spanish.

“This generation is a great achievement for international basketball,” Gasol said. And he added: “The game has grown a lot since we started. We can be very proud to have taken it to a higher level. Today we see how many other Europeans are raising it even higher. Gasol will become the third Spaniard to arrive at the museum dedicated to sports. But he is the first player, the other two are coaches: Pedro Ferrándiz and Antonio Díaz-Miguel.

At the press conference, Gasol dedicated a moment to his teammates from the Spanish team. “I always felt great pride playing for my country. i think my game here [en Estados Unidos] benefited from every summer spent playing with my teammates, I always felt the love and support of our country. And I tried to make my country feel proud for me after being chosen in such a high position in the draft, ”he remarked.

Pau Gasol made history with his career on the courts and will make his legend even bigger when he dons the orange suit and a special commemorative ring. These accessories add to a career with two NBA titles, two Olympic medals, three titles in Spain and a FIBA ​​gold medal. His name will be inscribed starting this weekend in the museum that was built a few meters from where basketball was invented in late 1891 by Canadian James Naismith, a physical education teacher at the YMCA.

Naismith’s invention was commissioned. The gym managers asked him to develop a game that would keep the most rebellious and problematic students busy, who could not be outside due to the low temperatures in that Illinois city. For this reason, he developed a game in which contact was minimal and where everyone’s participation as a team was necessary. The new sport became popular very quickly. By 1894, just three years after it was invented, it was already being played in dozens of countries as far away from remote Springfield as China, France, and India.

The generation of 2023 underlines the internationalization of basketball, especially the European talent that came to change the NBA since the 1990s. With Gasol, the German Dirk Nowitzki, the sixth highest scorer in the NBA and who led the Dallas Mavericks to the first championship in their history in 2011, also enters the Hall of Fame; and French point guard Tony Parker, a legend of the San Antonio Spurs who dominated the League in the early 2000s along with Tim Duncan and Argentine Manu Ginobili. The hegemony of Parker’s team will have double representation at the ceremony: Gregg Popovich, the Spurs coach and the man with the most wins on the bench in League history, will be added to the museum of legends.

Among the Americans who will receive the distinction are also Dwayne Wade, who formed a dominant trident in the Miami Heat along with Lebron James and Chris Bosh, with whom he won three NBA championships and was chosen 13 times for the All Star. the gold medal with the United States at the 2008 Beijing Games, defeating Spain led by the Gasol brothers, Juan Carlos Navarro and José Calderón in a legendary match. Becky Hammon, who was a six-time WNBA All-Star and won the bronze medal in Beijing 2008, will also enter the Hall.

Two legends will be in charge of presenting Gasol at the ceremony. The first is Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the Lakers giant who retired in 1989 and whose points record stood until this year, when he was surpassed by Lebron James. In addition, the Croatian Toni Kukoc will be present at the ceremony. Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls forward was one of the first figures to come from Europe to make a name for himself in the NBA. In the process, they inspired a whole generation of kids all over the world. One of them was Gasol, who at 19 was a lanky youngster who played for Barcelona. Today both are considered in the select group of athletes who have triumphed on both sides of the Atlantic.

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