Retirement of Pau Gasol’s jersey by the Los Angeles Lakers


A legendary company

The retirement of the jerseys is one of the most sacred rites in American professional sports, the highest distinction of a franchise, the prelude to the Hall of Fame. It was born as a tribute to a seriously injured player in the professional ice hockey league, the NFL, whose case reached such drama in the 1930s that it became the talk of the United States, a country that sought to return to entertain itself with the sport. while leaving behind the hardships of the crack of 29. It was in 1933, in a game at the Boston Garden between the Bruins and the Maple Leafs (Toronto) when “ACE” Bailey (Maple Leafs), one of the stars of the competition, fell Killed after a blow from a player 30 kilos heavier than him, Eddie Shore (Bruins): concussion, stroke and skull fracture. His life was in serious danger. He underwent two life-or-death operations. In one of them, while taking place in a Boston hospital, his father was detained at the Canadian border with a gun. He was going to kill Shore. Bailey recovered, but did not play hockey again. The following year the Maple Leafs played a benefit game for ACE with the NHL stars, where Shore was. That game was the germ of the All Star and ended with the removal of Bailey’s shirt with the number “6”.

Until 1954, 21 years later, nothing like it was produced in the NBA. The honor fell to Billy Gabor, forward for the Nationals, the embryonic team of the Sixers. Popular for being a World War II bomber pilot, the first player to compete with eye protection, he was champion in 1955. A year earlier the Nats retired his “7” jersey. That fashion prevailed to this day. Almost 69 years less one day later, Pau Gasol will see his shirt go up to heaven at the Arena.

The Lakers are not a very effusive franchise. The pantheon of legends is select. Demanding. If the Celtics dignified the concept of a basketball team, especially in the 1960s, their great rival from California represented the opposite: in Hollywood they opted for a movie show with Oscar actors. Many of the biggest NBA superstars have worn the purple and gold (formerly white) jersey. Mikan, Elgin Baylor (Michael Jordan before Michael Jordan), Jerry West (the logo of the competition), Abdul-Jabbar (recordman in points until he did nothing, in MVP awards, in appearances in the All Star), Magic, who redefined the concept of point guard and was a five-time champion, Shaq, the most dominant center in this century, and Kobe, undisputed in terms of greatness with his five rings and his records. All of them have their jersey removed and Bryant twice (8 and 24). LeBron James, another myth dressed in yellow, will have his turn when he retires.

As basketball is a team game, on a second rung of these stairs to heaven, there are players who helped the previous ones to reign. Because in the Lakers of 33 consecutive victories (absolute record in American professional sports), a team that was champion in 1972 included Chamberlain and West, but also a magnificent scorer like Goodrich (25.5 points per game, fifth in the NBA ). In the Showtime Lakers, along with Magic and Jabbar, two fantastic forwards also shone, first Jamaal Wilkes and then James Worthy. And, as Kobe said, without Pau Gasol the Lakers would not have been champions in 2009 and 2010. It is his role as an extraordinary supporting player, like a select few before, the Catalan has carved a niche for himself among the legends.

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