Lakers News: Pau Gasol Speaks To Phil Jackson’s Impact On His Career
Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Lakers
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers legend Pau Gasol had his No. 16 jersey officially retired this past season on a special night at Crypto.com Arena in March. Gasol was showered with love the entire night, including a standing ovation once he took his seat in the second quarter.

Gasol is one of the most beloved Lakers in history as his addition marks a crucial moment in the franchise’s history. The Lakers went to three NBA Finals in his first three seasons in L.A., winning two of them including an epic 2010 title against the Boston Celtics. It was then that Gasol’s place in Lakers history was practically solidified. He had 19 points and 18 rebounds and a huge basket near the end of Game 7.

A key figure responsible for Gasol’s success was former head coach Phil Jackson. Before his jersey retirement, Gasol spoke about his love for Jackson.

“Phil is so unique in a way that he is. He’s known to figure out a way to get the best out of his players, understand how he can poke them and motivate them and see what’s too far, what’s too little and he can fine-tune that,” he said. “Loved how spiritual and intellectual he is. I love his whole demeanor, really. Even though sometimes he can get under your skin and he would do that purposely. He would get a kick out of it. It’s just how he was, how he is.

“But I loved continuing to see him over the years. And every time pretty much that I come to L.A., we find time to get together and have lunch and we talk and it’s great. I tell him I love him, I hug him. I’m trying to go visit him to Montana and spend some time in the mountains, but hopefully, we’ll make that happen soon. He was doing some work last year, didn’t happen. I go back in the summers to Spain, most of the time, so it’s hard during that summertime where Montana is blossoming I guess. But I still don’t I don’t mind. I won’t visit because of the weather, I want to spend time with him. That’s really what I care about. So it’s been great.”

The two had a tough relationship at times. Jackson nudged Gasol in the chest and berated him during the Lakers’ Game 3 loss against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Playoffs. However, it was just an example of Jackson pushing Gasol to be better, something he acknowledged.

“We’ve developed such a nice relationship. Once you’re in that grind and you’re in that quest, it’s hard to appreciate certain things. You’re just trying to figure things out and go, go, go. But, when you look back, you get to reflect and really appreciate a lot of those moments,” Gasol said. “How he, again, motivated me, how he put me in positions to succeed. It seems so seamless right when I got to the Lakers. Like oh, this guy fit right away, it feels like he’s been playing the triangle for 10 years. And it was just special. It was special because it put me in positions where I could play the game and I could make reads. I was a willing passer. I could also score. So it was great. And I had good shooters around me. I had a dominant player that could take over in the 4th quarter any time we needed to. You know, seemed to work. Phil is a special person in my life and he’s highly loved in my family.”

Those moments with Jackson are some that Gasol will surely never forget. The player and coach were major characters during a memorable time of Lakers basketball.

Heat’s Jimmy Butler flew to L.A. between games to watch Pau Gasol’s jersey retirement

Many former Lakers teammates of Gasol were in attendance for his jersey retirement ceremony. However, it wasn’t just purple and gold lore that wanted to witness Gasol’s night.

His former Chicago Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler flew in between games to attend the ceremony, an amazing gesture. Butler and Gasol shared a quick moment on the court before Butler went back to his suite.

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