Pau Gasol now plays for one of the many Western Conference teams that considers itself a rival of the Los Angeles Lakers. Just because the future Hall-of-Famer is with the Portland Trail Blazers, though, hardly means he’s forgotten his place in purple-and-gold lore.
Gasol confirmed as much on Wednesday, sending a birthday wish to another former Laker who helped the franchise to multiple championships, Magic Johnson.
“One of the best basketball players of all time turns 60 today. A magician on the court. The one and only. Happy birthday, Magic Johnson!” he wrote on Twitter, also relaying the message in his native tongue of Spanish.
Gasol won back-to-back titles with Los Angeles in 2009 and 2010, but even those accomplishments aren’t accurate portrayal of just how important he was to the organization. Before former general manager Mitch Kupchak swung what was at the time considered a heist of trade for Gasol, then with the Memphis Grizzlies, in February of 2008, Lakers icon Kobe Bryant had flirted with the notion of publicly demanding a trade. After adding Gasol, Los Angeles immediately became a title contender, making the NBA Finals the following June and winning consecutive championships the next two seasons.
Gasol signed a one-year deal with the Blazers in July. He spent last season with the San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks, but injuries kept him from contributing for the Eastern Conference’s top seed in the playoffs.
Magic Johnson, meanwhile, celebrated his 60th birthday on Tuesday by unveiling several “top-60” lists of his personal favorites on Twitter. In April, the five-time champion abruptly resigned from his post as Los Angeles’ president of basketball operations.