There’s something a little bittersweet about Pau Gasol‘s enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While Gasol is a no-brainer inductee and one of the multiple high-profile members of the Class of 2023 alongside names like Gregg Popovich and Dwyane Wade, it’s hard to imagine that Kobe and Gianna Bryant wouldn’t have been in attendance if not for their passing in 2020.
After starting his NBA career with the Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol was traded in February of 2008 to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he was instrumental in helping Bryant win the final two championships of his career. The two became extremely close, and while getting inducted on Saturday night, Gasol brought up Kobe, saying he would not be in Springfield if not for him.
“That’s where I got to know the person who elevated my game like no other, who taught me what it took to win at the highest level, who showed me how hard you have to work and the mentality you needed to have in order to be the best, the commitment you had to make, what it meant and what it took to be a leader: Kobe,” Gasol said.
After diving into the now-famous story of the first time he met Bryant after getting traded to L.A., Gasol expressed his sadness over Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, not being there.
“I wouldn’t be here without you, brother,” Gasol said. “I wish more than anything that you and Gigi were here today with us. I miss you and love you.”