The entire NBA is saying goodbye to Kobe Bryant, as his career is down to its final game. But few farewells mean as much as one from Pau Gasol.
The former Los Angeles Lakers big man famously won two titles alongside Bryant before everything fell apart. As two of the smartest players in modern basketball history, Gasol and Bryant shared a connection and deep respect for one another.
That mutual admiration wasn’t enough to keep Gasol in Los Angeles in 2014, when he joined the Chicago Bulls in free agency. But in a heartfelt send-off on Tuesday, Gasol revealed that he misses Bryant.
He said he wanted me to stay in L.A. and battle with him and finish our careers together. Those were his words. I told him I was in a place where I needed a change in my heart. I needed a change of air. It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, telling him, “I’m deciding not to play with you anymore.”
I signed with the Bulls because I wanted to put myself in position to win another title. I haven’t been able to do that. I miss him a lot. I miss his presence. I miss that attitude. Not many players have it.
That. Is. Perfect. It’s the most Pau Gasol-esque goodbye one could imagine. He "misses his presence"! Who even says that, other than Pau?
It’s too much. We almost can’t handle it. But forget it — let’s throw caution to the wind and take it up a notch with three of the greatest moments in Pau and Kobe’s too-short relationship:
Kobe and Pau combined for 42 of the Lakers’ 83 points (with Metta World Peace kicking in 20 more), and the two superstars came up clutch time and time again down the stretch to win the second ring of their time together.