Tennis legend Rafael Nadal could only heap praise on his fellow compatriot Pau Gasol ahead of his Los Angeles Lakers jersey retirement.
Gasol will be honored by the Lakers when his No. 16 jersey will be retired and hung next to Kobe Bryant’s at Crypto.com Arena Tuesday before the Memphis Grizzlies game.
It’s a special moment for the two-time champion as he will not only join a list of illustrious names to have their jersey numbers retired by the Lakers, but he’ll also be the very first Spaniard to accomplish the feat in the NBA.
Nadal took to social media to pay tribute to Gasol in a video for his incredible achievement and emphasize just how massive it is for the nation of Spain.
“For the Los Angeles Lakers to retire Pau Gasol’s jersey is something incredible to me,” Nadal said. “It is someone who is not American in a team that is probably the most emblematic in the history of the NBA. For them to retire the jersey of a player who is not American, who is Spanish, and someone I personally have lived it very closely, makes me very excited. I think it is a day of celebration and to be proud of what he has achieved.
“This shows what Pau is and what Pau meant for the most important league in the world. In a sport in which things like this were very distant years ago.”
You can watch it below:
Grandísimo Pau!!!!!!! Enhorabuena por este inmenso honor! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/o9FyBxGqgn
— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) March 7, 2023
Pau Gasol won two championships in seven seasons with the Lakers, averaging 17.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks over 429 games.