‘I wouldn’t be here without you, brother’

The members of this year’s Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class received their ultimate honor as the star-studded group was officially inducted Saturday night in Springfield, Mass. Legends like Gregg Popovich, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Becky Hammon were among the inductees, and the speeches were full of emotional moments.

One sentiment that stood out, however, came from former Los Angeles Lakers star Pau Gasol, who lovingly recalled his early memories of the late Kobe Bryant. Gasol explained that the same night he joined the Lakers in Washington, D.C. after being traded from the Grizzlies, Bryant insisted on staying up late and coming to his hotel room for a talk.

“He made sure that right away, firsthand, I got the message,” Gasol said of Bryant during his induction speech. “He said, ‘Welcome to the team. I’m happy you’re here. Now let’s go win a championship together.’ I said, ‘Alright I’m in, man. I’m in. Have a good night.’ That was it. No crap. Straight to the chase.

“I wouldn’t be here without you, brother. I wish more than anything that you and Gigi were here today with us. I miss you and love you.”

Teammates. Friends. Brothers.

Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. @Hoophall inductees.

📺: The #23HoopClass Enshrinement is live on NBA TV pic.twitter.com/lGWKjKwBYS

— NBA (@NBA) August 13, 2023
Gasol has often spoken of his familial relationship with Bryant, and called himself a “brother” to Kobe’s widow Vanessa and an “uncle” to their children during the induction speech on Saturday.

After Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008, the team made three consecutive NBA Finals trips, winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. He enters the Hall of Fame as a six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, Rookie of the Year winner and a three-time Olympic medalist as a crucial member of Spain’s national team.

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