Los Angeles, United States, Mar 7 (EFE).- With a purple and gold jersey with the number 16 and his name on each and every one of the stadium seats, Los Angeles celebrated Tuesday the legacy of Pau Gasol, whose number was retired by the Lakers.
Hours before the tribute, which took place at halftime of the game between the Lakers and Grizzlies, the image of the Crypto.com Arena (the new name of the Staples Center) was impressive with thousands of Gasol jerseys perfectly arranged in the stands.
It was a very special day for the Los Angeles franchise, but not even Gasol could cope with a fully established tradition in a city with infernal traffic: arriving late to games, be they basketball, baseball or American football.
Thus, when the match began, there was little more than half an inning, but as the match progressed, people continued to arrive until they almost practically filled the pavilion.
One of the cautious ones who arrived early enough was Al, who said in statements to EFE that he had been a Lakers fan for 35 years and took photos at the foot of the court with his Gasol shirt.
“Having your shirt removed is the greatest honor,” said this Los Angeles fan, stressing that the Spaniard simply deserves it for being “a double champion” with the Lakers.
Apart from his merits as a player, Al also praised Gasol’s personality.
“He is very humble,” he said.
From much further away, specifically from Mallorca, Spain, David Segura, winner of a Gasol Foundation charity draw, arrived in the Californian city to be at this unique moment for Spanish basketball.
Accompanied by his sister Veronica, David, with a smile from ear to ear, said that they had been “very intense days” and exciting for them.
“Meeting Pau, being in the Staples Center, they see how the shirts are removed, in disbelief that the whole stadium has a shirt … he shows what he is: an incredible player,” he said. “He deserves it for everything he generated with Kobe: the two rings and three consecutive NBA Finals.”
Along with Gasol’s shirts, many others were also seen in the stadium with the name of Kobe Bryant, with whom he formed a lethal duo on the court and indissoluble one off it.
During the game, Lakers fans (with some figures among them such as actor Adam Sandler or the Red Hot Chili Peppers band) received Gasol with a standing ovation when he entered the stadium between the first and second quarters, a very moving moment before which the former player could not contain his tears.
With his shirt uncovered at the top of the pavilion and totally moved, it was Gasol’s turn to return the love to this impressive “golden tide.”
“To the city of Los Angeles, to the ‘Laker Nation:’ I love you dearly, I love you forever. Thank you for making me feel so special,” he said. EFE