Kareem to Pau Gasol: “My heart will be smiling for a long time...”
LA Lakers legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson congratulated the Spaniard on the day his #16 jersey was retired.
Every congratulations holds some significance, yet there are varying degrees of importance. This sentiment holds true, and while all have value, there is a special kind that comes from absolute legends of your chosen field. In this case, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He is an icon, a giant, the epitome of NBA greatness, and a former LA Lakers player who had his number 33 retired on March 20, 1990. Kareem was the top scorer in NBA history until LeBron James surpassed him on February 7, just one month before the Lakers retired Pau Gasol’s number 16 jersey.
Abdul-Jabbar’s tribute to Pau Gasol
Kareem is the first among a long list of towering men in the Lakers franchise, including Mikan, Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal, to name a few. Gasol has since joined this list, and on the day his jersey was retired, Kareem honored him with a touching video message played in the arena during the Lakers’ game against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. He also posted a message on social media.
‘It was honor to support Pau Gasol as Lakers retired his jersey,’ he wrote. ‘My heart will be smiling for a long time after seeing #16 hanging next to #24 in perpetuity.’ That number 24 referred to the jersey of the late Kobe Bryant and he ended the message with the hashtag #Lakerslegends. When Kareem speaks, it carries weight.
A Magic message for Gasol
Magic Johnson, another iconic figure in Lakers history, is considered one of the greatest of the past alongside Kobe and Kareem. On February 16, 1992, his jersey number 32 was retired. In celebration of Pau Gasol’s special night, Magic congratulated the Lakers organization, specifically owner Jeanie Buss, for putting together a tremendous tribute to honor Pau. He attended the game to show his support for Pau and was moved by the presence of Pau’s family, including his wife Catherine, children, parents, and brothers. The game also brought together former teammates and Lakers’ Hall of Famers..
The legend took to Twitter to say, ‘Coach Phil Jackson, his former Laker teammates like Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, and Metta as well as Laker Hall of Famers Kareem, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes and so many more. Congratulations Pau Gasol on your jersey retirement!’
The celebration of Pau Gasol’s achievements was not solely coming from heroes of the past. After a strong performance against the Grizzlies that kept the Lakers’ playoff hopes alive, Anthony Davis expressed his aspirations to one day have his own jersey retired by the Lakers. Davis was part of the Lakers team that won the championship in 2020, the franchise’s first title since Pau’s back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. Davis stated, “Someday I want the jersey to be up there, like Pau’s. I want to join that group. Whenever my body tells me that it’s time to stop playing, I hope to return to this pavilion and have a ceremony like that, like the one Pau had tonight.”
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) also congratulated Pau on his impressive career and thanked him for all he has done for his fellow players.
‘Congratulations on your incredible career, @paugasol, and thank you for all you’ve done for your brothers,’ they tweeted. ‘Your presence will always be felt throughout the game, and your legacy on and off the court will live on forever.’