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The story of a young Spanish athlete who made reality his dream of playing in the elite of world basketball.
Pau Gasol is the emblematic figure of the high level achieved in recent years by the Spanish basketball. Eminent member of a fifth known as the gold juniors or children in Lisbon, the season 2000-2001 marked the emergence of his talent: with the F.C. Barcelona was proclaimed champion of the ACB League and the Copa del Rey. Hailed as the best player in Spain, in June 2001 made the leap to the United States to play in the NBA, and the Memphis Grizzlies, he began his North American career. The NBA granted him the title of rookie, award that distinguishes the best rookie player of the season; no European had won it before him. His victory in the World Cup 2006 with the Spanish national team and his move to the Los Angeles Lakers, a team that played in 2008 NBA final, are the most recent milestones in a trajectory that is far from over. This young man of stature 2.16 has come true his childhood dream of playing among the large, making a place in the elite of world basketball.
Pau Gasol Sáez was born in Barcelona on July 6, 1980, though his parents are from Sant Boi de Llobregat. It is the firstborn son of the technical assistant health (ATS) Agustí Gasol and Dr. Marisa Sáez, measuring 1.86 to 1.96 meters, respectively. Pau is 2.16 meters (although it has a wingspan of 2.29 meters, thanks to his long arms), weighs 105 pounds and fits a 50. His brother Marc, born in 1984, measures 2.05 meters and played, in 2001, the cadets of the boat, while benjamin, Adria, born in 1994, still had not decided why sport decantaría definitely, though, in addition to the swimming, playing also basketball.
Basketball had played a key role in the destiny of the family. The parents met thanks to this sport. Agustí played at Gaudi, in the District of Sagrada Familia, where his parents ran the winery Gasol, who sold wine to the wholesale, so Pau is considered a son of this popular neighborhood. The mother played at Cornella. All members of the family are fond of the R. C. E. Spanish in Barcelona and, as the paternal grandfather was Director of the C. F. Martinenc, Pau tried his luck in the rugby and football, until its spectacular physical development made it tip definitively by the sport of basket, first in the equipment of the sports school wept and then, at Cornell, the same club where he had played his mother.
Born for basketball
The Cornella, Juanjo Campos, coach was the first who realized the enormous potential of that heading and willful young man who, despite his height, began playing base, which would provide an enviable technique, which tend to lack the high players. Pau has distinguished itself by its speed, to see the move in advance and be able to get the ball with the same efficacy than an accomplished base of 1.85 meters.
It was two seasons at Cornell, of the thirteen to fifteen, age in which signed for the lower levels of the boat at the request of the Barça technical Agustín Cuesta, player of the Cotonificio in the 1970s and early 1980s. He recommended it to other technicians were of the view that it had no body to succeed in basketball. Already at that time, their peculiar physical Constitution made him creditor of the Pink Panthernickname. It was also known as Gasofa, by her last name, and as E.T., because it has very long fingers of the hands.
Gasol landed the boat in his second season as a junior, with his inseparable friend Juan Carlos Navarro, who in 1998 became champion of Europe's youth teams and, the following year, in Lisbon junior world champion, which is the biggest success in the history of Spanish basketball.
Pau was a guy very disciplined and applied studies. His mother wanted it to be musician. In fact, between eight and thirteen years he studied solfeggio and piano, and still sings of wonder, imitating Pavarotti, when it is between friends.
The day that he decided to study medicine, finally abandoned the music. He arrived at ten in the evening at home after a hard workout and was still able to concentrate to study until the wee hours. However, its path to professionalism prevented him from pursuing these studies. The abandonment of studies was precisely one of the factors which weighed more in the family, especially in the mother, for whom intellectual training is essential if you want to take control of life», even if it is difficult to reconcile it with the sport's elite.
In the F. C. Barcelona
His career in the F. C. Barcelona was meteoric. After two seasons with the team junior, which was unveiled in a memorable final of the Junior Championship of Tenerife in 1998, became a part of the template that disputed the EBA League 1998-1999, even though he already actively participated in the trainings of the team that season was proclaimed champion of the Liga ACB. Even so, he had no professional tab until the 2000-2001 season, with a salary of 40 million pesetas and a clause of termination of 580 million, VAT included.
In the season 1999-2000 won 13 pounds of muscle and, with tab of the subsidiary team, Barcelona B, played almost all matches with the first team, that finished League runner-up. Three of youth that most stood out in those competitions (the own Gasol, Raúl López and Juan Carlos Navarro) not were invited, however, by national team coach Lolo Sainz, to compete in the Sydney Olympics, which allowed them to play the European Championship Junior 2000 Ohrid, where he conquered the bronze medal.
Gasol did not begin to show signs of its enormous possibilities until well into the 2000-2001 season, which became the player revelation, especially after her superb performance in the final of the Copa del Rey, which then refrendaría in the play off of the ACB League. The club won the double thanks, largely, to the responsibility that Gasol took in the decisive moments. This season, was a leader in mates, with 62, which gives an average of 2.07 per game. He was distinguished, as the best player in the finals of the Copa del Rey in Malaga. He was also elected member of the Ideal quintet of the Euroleague. Finally, he won the trophy of best player in the finals of the ACB League.
These statistics caught the attention of NBA Scouts, which is set as a priority the hiring of Gasol. On June 27, in the majestic setting of the Madison Square Garden in New York, Pau, accompanied by his nervous parents ("If not so treat me well now, I get it home", said Marisa), heard how the Commissioner of the NBA, the influential David Stern, pronounced his name after the Kwame Brown, chosen as number one by Washington Wizards , and Tyson Chandler, number two at Los Angeles Clippers.
Gasol was chosen by the Atlanta Hawks, who then gave the rights to the Vancouver Grizzlies, a Canadian franchise that in the season 2001-2002 should play in Memphis, Tennessee, and that to gain the services of Gasol broke its maximum star, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Member of the Dream Team that won the gold medal in the Sydney Olympics. The Grizzlies released its new web page as the only team in the NBA in Memphis with Gasol on the cover.
Urging the Grizzlies in a
party that was lost by injury
"It is fantastic. I love the NBA and want to play in this League,"said nothing more to be chosen, by launching a clear message to the managers of the F. C. Barcelona, whose purpose was to hold two seasons more. Its privileged position allowed him to pay the termination clause, as there was in the first three years, but age had a salary cap, you only win in more than 1.5 billion pesetas tab. A fact to keep in mind is that once expired the first contract of three years as a rookie, the player in question is free and, therefore, able to sign for the team you prefer. Or what is the same: signing the contract of his life in the NBA, by several million dollars.
Pau was fulfilling his dream and was going to be in the same Championship that their admired Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson, Shaquille O'Neal, and who knows if with his great idol, Michael Jordan, who in October 2001 decided to return once again to the competition and which in its day was also the third in the draft in 1984. It had also twenty years, but Gasol not forgot that Air Jordan was not consecrated until age twenty-six. No European had reached a high position in the draft. Drazen Petrovic, Arvydas Sabonis, or Toni Kukoc - which has some physical resemblance and similar way of playing-, or Vlade Divac, not even the great German star Nowitzki, whose ninth place in 1998 has been overshadowed by the fate that ran Gasol.
A simple star
In the first six months in the United States, as did other mothers of European players, he was joined by Marisa, who requested a leave of absence in Social Security. It was not difficult to adapt, as Gasol, during his stay in New York, had already star treatment, a simple star who captivated young Americans, somewhat tired of the eccentricities of their idols. In fact, it was already a star of television, because on his visit to the NBA Store, she participated in a TV show along with two other large draft 2001. The best compliment came you from one of the people who most understand basketball, Chris Ekstrand, official NBA analyst: «Is a player with great technical qualities, capable of handling the ball as a base or a bodyguard, which is very noticeable in a seven-foot player».
Although the team that chose to Pau Gasol in the draft were the Atlanta Hawks, the operation was already agreed in advance with the Memphis Grizzlies, that would cross to the Hawks to its maximum star, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, in Exchange for the Spanish, which gives a good sample of the interest in Gasol. The Grizzlies franchise was in the process of reconstruction, since it abandoned its first settlement in the Canadian city of Vancouver to move to Memphis, looking for more support from the public.
In this new phase, the Grizzlies executives opted for entertainment and fun. In addition to the three most prominent players of stay in Vancouver of the franchise, guard Michael Dickerson, the high eaves Stromile Swift and Center Lorenzen Wright, the Grizzlies have pierced to Mike Bibby to Sacramento Kings for Jason Williams, the most brilliant base of the NBA, in addition to choose in the same draft that Gasol other young talents : the Greek power forward Antonios Fotsis and College star from Duke, in the 2001 NCAA champion, Shane Battier eave. With all these Wicker, coach Sidney Lowe set out to build a bold, brazen and spectacular set that compitiese in the West Conference looking to improve the above situation in Canada.
Gasol with the Grizzlies
Pau Gasol made his debut on 1 November 2001, in a match in which the Memphis Grizzlies were defeated by a Detroit Pistons in which its star, Jerry Stackhouse, was unstoppable in the NBA. The discreet meeting of Gasol, with 4 points and 4 rebounds, responded to the nerves of the debutante and the logical period of acclimatisation that awaited him by front in a competition as demanding as the NBA. However, the explosion of the Barcelona pivot not took to arrive, and, although the Grizzlies closed the season with a poor balance of 23 wins against 59 losses, the progression of Gasol exceeded the most optimistic forecasts. Best rookie (rookie) was elected in November (2001), January and March (2002) before achieving the title of rookie of the year, an award to the regularity and effectiveness of his game that had never before achieved a European player. And the distinguished Americans, include legendary names like Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Jordan, O'Neal, Vince Carter.
Loaded with full physical and technical, winning mentality and personal effort, the young Spanish pivot played his first year with the best in the World Basketball without prejudice and without complexes and won your website. The numbers immediately endorsed the magical season of the catalan pivot. He played an average of 36.7 minutes in 82 games and achieved surprising averages of 17.6 points; 8.9 rebounds; 2.1 plugs per game and 2.7 assists. No other rookie did best and 117 of 126 journalists who choose the best rookie in the NBA gave their vote to Gasol. Only nine players, since the institution of the award in 1953, won in his day with a higher percentage of votes. Extraordinary news for Spanish sport.
2003 was the year of confirmation of Gasol. More than fulfilled expectations that had awakened in his debut, clinched his leadership in the club and claimed a deserved prominence in the best League in the world. He was also the star of the Spanish team that achieved the silver medal at the Europeans in Sweden. On his return to the discipline of the NBA, Pau renewed his contract with the Grizzlies until 2005.
In April 2004 it signed a very important page in the NBA, as the Grizzlies, Gasol having one of its star, and although they fall eliminated in quarterfinals 4 - 0 against the champions, the San Antonio Spurs, they got very creditable way access to the demanding play off of the most important League in the world. Never this team had come so far in its ten years of franchise, so its elimination had an unmistakable air of triumph. This success helped strengthen the excellent evolution of the Spanish pivot, who finished the season with an average of 17.7 points per game, 7.5 rebounds and 31.6 minutes played.
With the Spanish team
In September 2004, after his great performance in the Athens Olympics, despite the disappointing outcome of the Spanish national team (finished seventh, after having been first in its group, winning all matches; their crossing into quarters with a lackluster United States was fatal), was elected best European player of 2004 by the International Federation of basketball (along with Russia's Maria Stepanova at women's category).
In January of 2005 reached record 5.023 points achieved in his career in the NBA, in which up to that time had played 275 games. That season ended in similar manner to the previous: the Grizzlies reached again the play off of the NBA, but again ended up losing in first phase against the San Antonio Spurs, despite the great performance of the catalan pivot. Gasol numbers were even better than the previous season: an average of 18.9 points per game, 7.7 rebounds and 32 minutes played.
The 2005-2006 season started brilliantly for Gasol. For February 2006 already amounted to 48 matches played, with the following average per game stats: 18.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 39m 24s of game. With these numbers it seemed a serious contender to play the All Star, the "party of the stars", but the votes of the fans were not enough. However, it was precisely that "more you know", the coaches of each of the NBA teams, which decided that the catalan played the party one of the greatest honors that can receive a basketball player. Thus, on February 19 the dream became a reality: a Spanish rose, for the first time to the stadium to play the legendary exhibition game, which this time was setting the Toyota Center in Houston. The role of Gasol in the party was also very commendable, because it got to be the maximum reboteador, with twelve, while he failed to score any basket.
Gasol in the 2006 All Star (all-star game)
Shortly after his participation in the "game of the stars" got a new record of annotation in his NBA career: 39 points, achieved against the Washington Wizards in the same month of February 28. Shortly thereafter, in a showdown against the Seattle Supersonics, got its first "triple double": 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Nevertheless, his team, which returned to qualify for the playoff, fell defeated 3-0 in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks for a huge Dirk Nowitzki, which clouded not an excellent performance of the catalan pivot.
The world champion with Spain
In top form, and once completed its season in the NBA, the catalan pivot set out to prepare, along with his companions of selection, the World Cup which was to be held in Japan. The new coach, Pepu Hernández, built a robust set that veterans Garbajosa and Jimenez were joined by the big names of the famous Gold juniors, as Navarro, Kings or heads, who accompanied at the same time new talents of Spanish basketball, as José Manuel Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Sergio Rodríguez and Mumbrú, in addition to the surprise of the brother of Pau , Marc Gasol, who joined at the last moment by the injury of Fran Vázquez.
With a start brilliant, it seemed that there was no rival to the height of the Spanish group, Gasol and yours arose in Japan with greater confidence and eager to make a great paper. Thus, they won easily to all his rivals in the preliminary round, and were gradually saving pitfalls on your way to the final. First it was Serbia and Montenegro, which won a resounding 87-75. In the quarter, feared cutting so many times was the sword of Damocles for the national team, Spain got beating the dreaded Lithuania for an even more forceful 89-67.
Thanks to combinations and first place in the preliminary phase, Spain did not have to deal with the so-called "black beast" of the Championship, the United States, but had to suffer unspeakable to beat a stony Argentina in the semifinal in a final match of infarction, with a point above for Spain and possession of several seconds for Argentines. The slogan of Hernandez was a fierce defense and the absence of faults; the move went well, and the triple launched by Nocioni did not enter basket. However, the big news of the presence at the end of the Spanish team was marred by another: Pau Gasol, which until then had been the reference of the Spanish team, and that had an average of 21.3 points and 9.4 rebounds in the Championship, fell injured and will miss the final.
Garbajosa and Marc Gasol out to Pau on the Court
after injury in the semifinal against Argentina
Before this hard drink, team concentrated even more and wanted to devote the achievement of the title to the great Barcelona pivot. The "review" that gave Greece was anthology, because the end result was 70-47. The staff had this Gasol as if you were on the track, and such was the recognition of his work which was elected "most valuable player" of the tournament, despite losing the final.
With all this, to his excellent achievements Gasol added also nothing less than a world title in an unforgettable year for himself and his companions of the selection. The most bitter chapter, doctors gave the pivot the news that his recovery would be at least four months of low, so Pau is resigned to losing much of the beginning of a more Spanish than ever, NBA because apart from it would play in the best League in the world the Spaniards Juan Manuel Calderón, Jorge Garbajosa and Sergio Rodríguez.
Finally, Los Angeles Lakers
The season 2006-2007 was a step backward for the team of Gasol, the Grizzlies, who without him for much of the season due to the injury produced in the world, failed to reach the playoffs for the title. In the summer of 2007, Gasol returned to be part of the Spanish national basketball team to compete in the Eurobasket in Spain. Selection by Gasol made a great Championship after initially hesitant, until you reach the end, where sadly was overcome by Russia, with last shot failed by the own Gasol that left the gold medal the hosts.
The 2007-2008 season began with enthusiasm and forces renewed for the Grizzlies, who also were reinforced by another Spanish player who ventured in the best League in the world and a great friend of Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, coming from FC Barcelona of the ACB. After a promising start of the season, the team was gradually getting worse, dragging a large number of consecutive defeats despite the efforts of the Spanish pair.
Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in the Lakers
Surprisingly, and after much speculation and rumors, Pau Gasol was traded to Los Angeles Lakers on February 1, 2008, thus achieving the desire of the player to deploy their talent in a team with real aspirations to get the Championship. The beginning of Gasol in the Californian team, under the leadership of Kobe Bryant, could not be more promising, achieving link ten consecutive wins in their first matches. The own Kobe Bryant praised the game deployed by the Spanish, which he described as "incredible". Together led to the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of the playoff of the NBA, after defeating the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs: for the first time a Spanish came to an end of the NBA. And though the Lakers fell in the final against the Boston Celtics (4-2), already almost all the experts believe that someday Pau Gasol will be part of the winning team of the best League in the world.
Chronology of Pau Gasol
|1980||Born in Sant Boi de Llobregat (Barcelona)|
|1993-1997||It takes its first steps at Sant Boi and at the lower levels of the Unió Esportiva Cornellà, one of the quarry of the F. C. Barcelona clubs.|
|1997-1998||Plays on the team junior of the F. C. Barcelona, who won the Junior Championship of Spain.|
|1998-1999||He participated in the Spanish League Amateur Basketball Association (EBA), but already play some matches in the ACB with the F. C. Barcelona. With the Spanish team youth wins the European Junior Championship (Varna, 1998) and the Junior World Championship (Lisbon, 1999)|
|1999-2000||It remains in the EBA team, but played almost all matches in Liga ACB with the first team of the F. C. Barcelona.|
|2000-2001||It reveals your potential winning the Copa del Rey and the ACB with the F. C. Barcelona.|
|2001||He was elected in the third position of the draft , the NBA and tab by Memphis Grizzlies. A European had never reached a position so high in the system of choice for NBA players.|
|2001-2002||He made his debut on 1 November 2001 with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the end of the season he was elected (rookie or rookie) rookie of the year, award achieved for the first time by a European player.|
|2002-2006||Become fundamental piece for the Memphis Grizzlies, he leads his team to challenge the NBA playoff in 2004 (for the first time in the history of the Grizzlies), in 2005 and in 2006.|
|2006||He was selected to play All Star or "game of the stars", in which was the maximum reboteador. He won the Japan World Championship with the Spanish national team.|
|2006-2008||The Grizzlies play gets worse and they begin to run rumors about his possible transfer.|
|2008||Tab by Los Angeles Lakers, where forms pair perfectly blended with the mythical Kobe Bryant. The team won the Western Conference Championship, but lost the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics.|
Pau Gasol with the Lakers (2008)
Palmares of Pau Gasol
With F. C. Barcelona
- Spain Championship Junior (1998)
- Copa del Rey (2001)
- Liga ACB (2001)
With the Spanish team
- Gold medal at the European Junior Championship (Varna, 1998)
- Gold medal at the Junior World Championships (Lisbon, 1999)
- Bronze medal in the European Junior Championship (Ohrid, 2000)
- Bronze medal in the European Championship (2001 Turkey)
- Silver medal in the Championship of Europe (Sweden, 2003)
- Gold medal at the World Championship (Japan, 2006)
- Silver medal at the European Championship (Spain, 2007)
The Spanish basketball team received in 2006
the Prince of Asturias Sports Award
In the NBA
- Champion of the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers (2008)
- Best player of the finals of the ACB League (2001)
- Best player of the finals of the Copa del Rey (2001)
- Member of the dream team of the Championship of Europe (Sweden, 2003)
- Best European player according to the international basketball Federation (2004)
- Most valuable player of the Western Conference of the NBA (2005 and 2006)
- Most valuable player of the Championship of the world (Japan, 2006)
- Member of the dream team of the World Championship (Japan, 2006)
- Member of the dream team of the European Championship (Spain, 2007)