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Pau Gasol Sáez (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈpaw ɣəˈzɔɫ], Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpau ɣaˈsol]; born July 6, 1980) is a Spanish professional basketball player who currently plays for the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is a five-time NBA All-Star, and a four-time All-NBA selection, twice on the second team and twice on the third team. He has won two NBA championships, both with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2002 with the Memphis Grizzlies, one of only two non-American NBA players to win that award. He is the older brother of fellow NBA player Marc Gasol.
Gasol was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft, but his rights were traded to Memphis. He currently holds the Grizzlies franchise records for field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. After seven seasons with the team, Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008. In 2014, he signed with the Chicago Bulls. Gasol has won two Olympic silver medals with the Spanish national basketball team.
Pau Gasol was born in Barcelona. He began playing basketball as a center with his school team, Alvirne, and he eventually signed with Cornellà. When he was sixteen, he began playing for Barcelona's junior team. He also won both the 1998 Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. After moving to the senior team of Barcelona, Gasol played just 25 total minutes in the Spanish ACB League 1998–99 season, and averaged 13.7 minutes per game in the ACB the next year. However, in his final season in the ACB, Gasol averaged 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game. Barcelona was victorious in the Spanish National Cup championship game in 2001, and Gasol was named Most Valuable Player. After entering the NBA draft, Gasol was selected third overall in the first round in the 2001 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, who traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
Memphis Grizzlies (2001–2008)
In Gasol's first season with the Grizzlies, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, and was named to the All-Rookie first team. He averaged 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and was also the only team member to play in all 82 games that season. Gasol led the team in scoring (19.0 points per game) in his second year with the team, and for the second year in a row, played in all 82 games. Gasol missed the first game of his career, during his third year, with a foot injury on April 5, 2004, which snapped his string of 240 consecutive games played. He grabbed the 1,500th rebound of his career on November 12, 2003, against the Orlando Magic and scored his 3,000th career point on October 31, 2003, against the Boston Celtics. Despite having 22 points in Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, the highest by a Memphis players in the playoffs, his team was eliminated in the first round, not winning a single game against San Antonio. This was both the Grizzlies and Gasol's first trip to the NBA Playoffs. He scored 31 points and blocked four shots on January 11, 2005, against the Indiana Pacers to earn 5,000 points and 500 blocks in his career, becoming the 10th fastest player to reach 5,000 points/500 blocks since 1973–74. He also helped his team make it to the playoffs for the second time in his career, but they were eliminated in the first round and did not win a single game against the Phoenix Suns.
In his fifth year with the team, he became the franchise’s all-time leading rebounder on March 24 against the New York Knicks when he grabbed his 3,072nd rebound in a Grizzlies uniform. He made 29 consecutive free throw attempts from January 24 to 28, tying the second best mark in Grizzlies history, including two straight games going 12–12 from the line, tying the best single-game mark in franchise history. Gasol and the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs for the third time in his and his team's history. Once again, they were eliminated in the first round and did not win a single game against the Dallas Mavericks.
On February 9, 2006, making his first appearance, Gasol was selected to play in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas as a reserve center for the Western Conference. At the time, he was one of four players ranked among Western Conference forwards in the top ten in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots. He was the first Spanish basketball player as well as the first Grizzlies player to ever make it to the All-Star Game.
Gasol missed the first 23 games of the 2006–07 NBA season due to a broken foot suffered near the end of Spain's semifinal win over Argentina in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. He would go on to be named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, which Spain won. He had a season-high 34 points (most by a Grizzly that season), and eight rebounds and tied a career-high and franchise record with eight blocks on January 29 against the Sacramento Kings, and surpassed Shareef Abdur-Rahim as the franchise's all-time leader in free throw attempts on January 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. He became the all-time franchise leader in field goals made on February 6 against the Houston Rockets, and became the all-time franchise leader in minutes played on February 7 at Dallas. He surpassed Shareef Abdur-Rahim (7,801 points) as the Grizzlies' all-time leading scorer on March 7, 2007, against the Toronto Raptors (7,809 points at the time). On January 24, 2007, Gasol recorded his second career triple-double against the hosting Utah Jazz, garnering 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. He also registered 2 blocks and one steal.
Los Angeles Lakers (2008–2014)
On February 1, 2008, Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers along with a 2010 second round draft pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks. There has been some controversy surrounding the trade. Chris Wallace denied in an ESPN article that he had been ordered by owner Michael Heisley to make the Grizzlies more attractive to a potential buyer. Wallace said, "No one put pressure on me to do this, and Michael Heisley has actually been reluctant to move Pau." He also said that they had been "trolling" the waters for a while and dealt with a number of teams. He selected the Lakers deal because "it didn't get any better than this." When Gasol departed the Grizzlies, he held twelve franchise records, including games played, minutes played, field goals made, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. Per game statistics, he leads Memphis in defensive and total rebounds along with blocked shots. On February 5, he made his first Lakers appearance in a game against the New Jersey Nets, during which he scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds in a 105–90 win over the Nets. On March 14, Gasol sprained his ankle in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, stepping on the foot of teammate Vladimir Radmanović in the first quarter. Gasol was expected to miss the remaining three games of the Lakers' road trip after x-rays came up negative. Gasol returned to the starting lineup on April 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers and played nearly thirty-two minutes, registering 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists. He admitted to feeling limited with the swelling in his ankle still present. Gasol helped the Lakers finish the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference (57–25), with him in the starting lineup the Lakers went 22–5. Kobe Bryant has also stated that playing with Gasol clicked from the start.
In the Lakers' opening game of the playoffs, he contributed 36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocked shots. When the Lakers swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round, it was Gasol's first trip to the second round in four tries. His previous team, the Grizzlies, failed to reach the playoffs for the second year in a row. He contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds in Game 6 against the Utah Jazz to help the Lakers advance to the conference finals. On May 31, he recorded a career high 19 rebounds in a series-clinching win against the San Antonio Spurs, and he became the first Spaniard to reach the NBA Finals. Gasol scored 14.7 points per game on .532 shooting in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, which was below his scoring average of 18.9 during the regular season, However, he led the Lakers in rebounding with 10.2 per game throughout the championship series, up from his regular-season average of 8.4. Los Angeles lost in six games against Boston in the Finals, including a 131–92 loss in Game 6. During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Gasol was the second leading Laker in points (16.9), rebounds (9.3) and assists per game (4.0). He was the leader in blocks per game (1.90) and was tied with Lamar Odom with the most postseason double-doubles (10).
Gasol earned his second All-Star appearance as a reserve for the Western Conference squad during the 2008–09 NBA season, his first as a Laker. He was also named Western Conference Player of the Month after helping the Lakers to an 11–2 record for the month of February that included road wins over Boston and Cleveland. He finished the regular season with averages of 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 block per game. Gasol then won his first NBA championship ring when the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
On December 24, 2009, Gasol signed a 3-year extension with the Lakers worth $64.7 million. Gasol earned his third All-Star appearance as a reserve for the Western Conference and finished the regular season with averages of 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.7 blocks. In Game 6 of the first round, Gasol grabbed 18 rebounds and his last-second putback eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, he averaged 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds. In Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Gasol scored 19 points, (6–16 FGM-A, 7–13 FTM-A) grabbed 18 rebounds and recorded two blocks as the Lakers repeated as champions. In 2010, he was chosen as the 15th-smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News.
Challenged by Lakers' coach Phil Jackson to be more assertive while Bryant recovered from offseason knee surgery, Gasol started the season's first week averaging 25.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting, 10.3 rebounds, and five assists per game as the Lakers started 3–0. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week. He earned his third straight All-Star selection and his season averages of 19 points and 10 rebounds were nearly identical to what he had put up as a Laker the previous three seasons. Pau's play also merited him All-NBA second team honors for the first time in his career. In the playoffs, Gasol only averaged 13 points on 42% shooting over 10 games, and the Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round. Gasol had the worst post season performance of his career. Lakers Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Magic Johnson cited Gasol as a possible trade option for the Lakers to acquire Magic center Dwight Howard. Gasol ignored the false reports about his relationship status with his girlfriend as the cause of his poor performance and has accepted the criticism of his play as valid. During the 2011–12 NBA season, Gasol and teammate Lamar Odom were subjected to trade rumors involving former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. After the trade fell through, Gasol vowed that it would not affect the way he played. Odom, on the other hand, was angry at the Laker organization and was traded to the 2010–11 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks for a future first round pick. After Lakers co-captain Derek Fisher was traded in March 2012, Gasol joined Bryant as co-captains of the team. He won the 2011–12 seasonlong NBA Community Assist Award.
After a 1–4 start to the 2012–13 season, the Lakers replaced head coach Mike Brown with Mike D'Antoni. Gasol was struggling after seven games under D'Antoni, averaging 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 38.8 percent, and he was benched in the fourth quarter in multiple games. The team had difficulties getting Gasol involved in D'Antoni's offense, which historically had not had post players playing forward. Gasol ranked only 27th in the league in post-up points with 2.7 per game, down from prior seasons when he was fifth in 2010–11 and ninth in 2011–12. Bothered by tendinitis in both knees since training camp, Gasol sat out eight games in December before returning to the starting lineup. Later, he was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, but continued playing. General manager Mitch Kupchak told Lakers season-ticket holders the team needed Gasol to be more involved. On January 7, 2013, Gasol received a blow to the face from Denver's JaVale McGee in the fourth quarter of a 112–105 loss. He suffered a concussion, forcing him to miss the next five games. In his first game back, he came off the bench after having started his first 345 games with the Lakers. In the next game, he returned to the starting lineup and scored 25 points against Toronto, only his second 20-point game of the season. However, in the next game on January 21, D'Antoni moved Gasol to a reserve role and started Earl Clark, a change the coach considered permanent. On February 5 against the Brooklyn Nets, Gasol tore the plantar fascia of his right foot. Gasol had tweaked the fascia in the first half, but played through the soreness until he felt it pop when he tried to block a shot by Brook Lopez towards the end of the game. He returned over six weeks later on March 22 after missing 20 games, with D'Antoni returning him to the starting lineup over Clark. After a two-game adjustment period, Gasol's play was solid, and Bryant insisted that Gasol receive the ball in the post. D'Antoni stated that Gasol had played well since January, and attributed the forward's earlier struggles to injuries and the team's evolving offensive system. "I have a lot more confidence in him now, and he's playing great," D'Antoni said. He finished the season with career lows in points (13.7) and field-goal percentage (.466), and his rebounds (8.6) were his lowest since his first season with Los Angeles. He was limited to career-low 49 games. However, he had three triple-doubles in his last seven games including the playoffs. Gasol was owed $19.3 million in 2013–14 in the final year of his contract, which would cost the Lakers around $50 million including luxury taxes. He became a free agent after the season.
Chicago Bulls (2014–present)
On July 18, 2014, Gasol signed with the Chicago Bulls. He said after he was introduced: "It was a gut feeling. I thought Chicago was going to be the best fit for me. It's a great challenge, but I'm driven by challenge. I look forward to it."
On January 1, 2015, Gasol recorded a career-high 9 blocks, along with 17 points and 9 rebounds, in the 106-101 win over the Denver Nuggets. Ten days later, he scored a career-high 46 points on 17-of-30 shooting in a 95-87 win over Milwaukee Bucks. On April 9, 2015, he recorded a league-best 51st double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds in an 89-78 win over the Miami Heat. He recorded his 54th double-double of the season in the regular season finale on April 15 against the Atlanta Hawks to finish as the league-leader in double-doubles in 2014–15.
Spanish national team
Gasol's first competition with the senior Spain national basketball team was the 2001 EuroBasket tournament, having previously won the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship and 1999 FIBA Under-19 World Championship with Spanish junior teams. Being considered, against his own will, the leader of the team, Gasol ended up with the bronze medal in the competition. Gasol has since had much success with the Spanish team, winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and the 2009 and 2011 EuroBasket tournaments, being chosen as the Most Valuable Player in the first two; he also won silver medals at the 2003 and 2007 EuroBasket, and the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. Gasol was also the highest-scoring player of the 2004 Summer Olympics, and Spain's flag bearer at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, replacing the injured Rafael Nadal. In 2014, Gasol was named to the All-tournament team of the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Gasol is very athletic and quick for a 7-footer (213 cm), and primarily plays the power forward and center positions. He has often been compared to fellow European players Toni Kukoč and Dirk Nowitzki, holding career averages of 18.4 points and 9.2 rebounds (as of the 2012-13 season). He is a refined scorer in the post and midrange; his overall game is near-ambidextrous and makes it difficult for opposing teams to defend. Gasol uses a variety of midrange jumpers, hook shots, up-and-under moves, and shot fakes to score very efficiently. Gasol's normal jumpshot range extends to Script error: No such module "convert".. In addition, his foot speed relative to his size allows him to run the fast break and finish effectively. He is also a skilled passer for a big man, earning 3.3 assists per game over his career. Defensively, he is an above-average shot blocker with a career average of 1.6 blocks per game. "You’d be hard-pressed to find a big [man] with his skill set in the history of the game," said Lakers teammate Bryant.
Before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2007–08 season, he had played exclusively with the Memphis Grizzlies from 2001–2008. When he was traded to the Lakers, he maintained the same number on his jersey, still playing with the number 16. In his career, Gasol has never been ejected. Gasol scored his 10,000th point in a game against the Jazz on January 2, 2009. He finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the win. Gasol scored his 15,000th point in a game against the Rockets on November 18, 2012. He finished with 17 points in the win.
Note: The Euroleague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season, he also played in domestic competition.
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Awards & honors
European Player of the Year awards
Spanish national team
Gasol's mother, Marisa, was a medical doctor, and his father, Agustí, was a nurse administrator. When Pau was born, his family was living in Cornellà, but he was born in Barcelona, at Sant Pau Hospital, where both of his parents worked. When he was six years old, his family moved to another Barcelona suburb, Sant Boi de Llobregat, where he spent the remainder of his childhood. His parents moved to the Memphis suburb of Germantown, Tennessee, after he signed with the Grizzlies, and enrolled his younger brothers Marc and Adrià in Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis. They planned to move to the Los Angeles area when Pau was traded to the Lakers, with Agustí accepting a job with a health-care company in that area; although the Grizzlies obtained the rights to Marc's services as part of the trade, he was expected to re-sign with his Spanish team Akasvayu Girona. However, when Marc decided to sign with the Grizzlies, their parents chose to stay in Germantown. Agustí now works from home for the same company, while Marisa now volunteers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Since being traded to the Lakers, Gasol lives in Redondo Beach, across the street from the shoreline.
In 2009, Gasol, along with several other NBA players, joined the Hoops for St. Jude charity program benefitting the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Gasol was never interested in football, but loved basketball. The first sport he played was actually rugby, before switching to basketball. He is described as "a family boy and the perfect student, a tad shy, and a bit of a joker."
He originally did not want to make sports his career. On the day that Magic Johnson announced his HIV-positive status in 1991, the 11-year-old Gasol, who had heard the news in school, decided that he wanted to be a doctor and find a cure for AIDS. He enrolled in medical school at the University of Barcelona, but left as his basketball career at FC Barcelona advanced. He remains strongly interested in medicine. Gasol regularly visits Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles, a standard stop for athletes making charitable visits in the L.A. area, but does not limit his business to visiting young patients. On one visit, he asked a group of doctors well-informed questions about their treatment of children with scoliosis. In April 2010, Gasol was scheduled to sit in on a spinal surgery, wearing surgical scrubs, with Dr. David Skaggs, the hospital's chief of orthopedic surgery. Skaggs has said, "We talk to him now almost like he is a surgical colleague."
Gasol canceled his original plans to observe a surgery when he came down with a low-grade fever the day before the operation, not wishing to risk infecting anyone at the hospital. He was able to reschedule his observation for June 2010, witnessing Skaggs lead a team operating on a 13-year-old girl from Colorado with scoliosis.
Gasol also has a broad range of intellectual and cultural interests. He has taught himself Italian and French to go along with his childhood languages of Catalan and Spanish plus English. He and Kobe Bryant speak to one another during games in Spanish to keep opponents from knowing their plans. Gasol also regularly reads historical novels, plays the works of French classical composers on his keyboard, and attends concerts and operas; he is a friend of Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo, and often visits him backstage after performances.
His younger brother Marc, who is Script error: No such module "convert". tall and Script error: No such module "convert"., is also a professional basketball player, currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, 48th overall, in the 2007 NBA Draft and his rights were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, as part of the deal that sent Gasol to the Lakers. Their youngest brother Adrià played for Lausanne's basketball team; his coach at Lausanne said, "He's built like Pau, with a mean streak like Marc," although he was not at the time considered a major basketball prospect. After returning to Spain for his final two years of high school basketball, Adrià enrolled at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in August 2012 and joined the UCLA basketball team as a walk on.
Gasol denied false reports that he had broken up with his girlfriend, Silvia Lopez Castro, in the exit interviews after his poor performance in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
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