When future Hall of Fame forward Pau Gasol had his jersey retired by the Los Angeles Lakers on Mar. 8, becoming just the 12th player in franchise history to receive that honor, a notable figure was missing from the crowd. As he continues to rehab a foot injury that could keep him out until the end of the regular season, Lakers forward LeBron James was not in the arena where Gasol spent more than six years of his storied career.
Speaking to NBA commentator Antoni Daimiel on NBA en Movistar, the beloved forward addressed James absence, saying “I didn’t know LeBron wasn’t coming.”
However, while he may have expected LeBron to be there, he says the “didn’t even notice” that the hulking figure of the four-time MVP wasn’t in the crowd.
“It was not important to me,” he says.
Pau Gasol: "No sabía que LeBron no venía, no me di cuenta tampoco, para mí no era relevante"#Gasol16 #dormiresdecobardes pic.twitter.com/h6HoST1tUW
— NBA en Movistar Plus+ (@MovistarNBA) March 17, 2023
The comments of the normally gregarious Gasol are interesting.
The powerful speech he delivered delved into his relationship with late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and perhaps the contents of it outweighed any thought of James being in the crowd. Furthermore, despite them being in the league together for 17 seasons, Pau and LeBron were never known to have a significant relationship. That being said, while there may be mutual respect between the two, it may not be a connection that goes deeper than the surface.
Considering that LeBron is the current face of the Lakers franchise, it would have been nice to see him in the crowd while Gasol was being honored. However, James had to miss the jersey retirement for medical reasons. He also gave a major shoutout to Gasol prior to the ceremony.