Gasol was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft, but his rights were traded to Memphis. He currently holds the Grizzlies franchise records for field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. After seven seasons with the team, Gasol was traded to the Lakers in 2008. His younger brother, Marc, was sent to the Grizzlies in the deal. Gasol has won two Olympic silver medals with the Spanish national basketball team.
Pau Gasol was born in Barcelona. He began playing basketball as a center with his school team, Alvirne, and he eventually signed with Cornellà. When he was sixteen, he began playing for Barcelona's junior team. He also won both the 1998 Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. After moving to the senior team of Barcelona, Gasol played just 25 total minutes in the Spanish ACB League 1998–99 season, and averaged 13.7 minutes per game in the ACB the next year. However, in his final season in the ACB, Gasol averaged 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per game. Barcelona was victorious in the Spanish National Cup championship game in 2001, and Gasol was named Most Valuable Player. After entering the NBA Draft, Gasol was selected third overall in the first round in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, who traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Memphis Grizzlies (2001–2008)
In Gasol's first season with the Grizzlies, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, and was named to the All-Rookie first team. He averaged 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and was also the only team member to play in all 82 games that season. Gasol led the team in scoring (19.0 points per game) in his second year with the team, and for the second year in a row, played in all 82 games. Gasol missed the first game of his career, during his third year, with a foot injury on April 5, 2004, which snapped his string of 240 consecutive games played. He grabbed the 1,500th rebound of his career on November 12, 2003, against the Orlando Magic and scored his 3,000th career point on October 31, 2003, against the Boston Celtics. Despite having 22 points in Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, the highest by a Memphis players in the playoffs, his team was eliminated in the first round, not winning a single game against San Antonio. This was both the Grizzlies and Gasol's first trip to the NBA Playoffs. He scored 31 points and blocked four shots on January 11, 2005, against the Indiana Pacers to earn 5,000 points and 500 blocks in his career, becoming the 10th fastest player to reach 5,000 points/500 blocks since 1973–74. He also helped his team make it to the playoffs for the second time in his career, but they were eliminated in the first round and did not win a single game against the Phoenix Suns.New York Knicks In his fifth year with the team, he became the franchise’s all-time leading rebounder on March 24 against the when he grabbed his 3,072nd rebound in a Grizzlies uniform. He made 29 consecutive free throw attempts from January 24 to 28, tying the second best mark in Grizzlies history, including two straight games going 12–12 from the line, tying the best single-game mark in franchise history. Gasol and the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs for the third time in his and his team's history. Once again, they were eliminated in the first round and did not win a single game against the Dallas Mavericks.
On February 9, 2006, making his first appearance, Gasol was selected to play in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas as a reserve center for the Western Conference. At the time, he was one of four players ranked among Western Conference forwards in the top ten in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots. He was the first Spanish basketball player as well as the first Grizzlies player to ever make it to the All-Star Game.
Gasol missed the first 23 games of the 2006-07 NBA season due to a broken foot suffered near the end of Spain's semifinal win over Argentina in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. He would go on to be named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, which Spain won. He had a season-high 34 points (most by a Grizzly that season), and eight rebounds and tied a career-high and franchise record with eight blocks on January 29 against the Sacramento Kings, and surpassed Shareef Abdur-Rahim as the franchise's all-time leader in free throw attempts on January 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. He became the all-time franchise leader in field goals made on February 6 against the Houston Rockets, and became the all-time franchise leader in minutes played on February 7 at Dallas. He surpassed Shareef Abdur-Rahim (7,801 points) as the Grizzlies' all-time leading scorer on March 7, 2007, against the Toronto Raptors (7,809 points at the time). On January 24, 2007, Gasol recorded his second career triple-double against the hosting Utah Jazz, garnering 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. He also registered 2 blocks and one steal.
Los Angeles Lakers (2008–present)
On February 1, 2008, Gasol was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers along with a 2010 second round draft pick for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol (Pau's younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks. There has been a bit of controversy surrounding the trade. Chris Wallace denied in an ESPN article that he had been ordered by owner Michael Heisley to make the Grizzlies more attractive to a potential buyer. Heisley has been trying to sell the franchise for two years. Wallace said, "No one put pressure on me to do this, and Michael Heisley has actually been reluctant to move Pau." He also said that they had been "trolling" the waters for a while and dealt with a number of teams. He selected the Lakers deal because "it didn't get any better than this." When Gasol departed the Grizzlies, he held twelve franchise records, including games played, minutes played, field goals made, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. Per game statistics, he leads Memphis in defensive and total rebounds along with blocked shots. On February 5, he made his first Lakers appearance in a game against the New Jersey Nets, during which he scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds in a 105–90 win over the Nets. On March 14, Gasol sprained his ankle in a game against the New Orleans Hornets, stepping on the foot of teammate Vladimir Radmanović in the first quarter. Gasol was expected to miss the remaining three games of the Lakers' road trip after x-rays came up negative. Gasol returned to the starting lineup on April 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers and played nearly thirty-two minutes, registering 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists. He admitted to feeling limited with the swelling in his ankle still present. Gasol helped the Lakers finish the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference (57–25), with him in the starting lineup the Lakers went 22–5. Kobe Bryant has also stated that playing with Gasol clicked from the start.
In the Lakers' opening game of the playoffs, he contributed 36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocked shots. When the Lakers swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round, it was Gasol's first trip to the second round in four tries. His previous team, the Grizzlies, failed to reach the playoffs for the second year in a row. He contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds in Game 6 against the Utah Jazz to help the Lakers advance to the conference finals. On May 31, he recorded a career high 19 rebounds in a series-clinching win against the San Antonio Spurs, and he became the first Spaniard to reach the NBA Finals. Gasol scored 14.7 points per game on .532 shooting in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, which was below his scoring average of 18.9 during the regular season, However, he led the Lakers in rebounding with 10.2 per game throughout the championship series, up from his regular-season average of 8.4. Los Angeles lost in six games against Boston in the Finals, including a 131–92 loss in Game 6. During the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Gasol was the second leading Laker in points (16.9), rebounds (9.3) and assists per game (4.0). He was the leader in blocks per game (1.90) and was tied with Lamar Odom with the most postseason double-doubles (10).
Gasol earned his second All-Star appearance as a reserve for the Western Conference squad during the 2008–09 NBA season, his first as a Laker. He was also named Western Conference Player of the Month after helping the Lakers to an 11–2 record for the month of February that included road wins over Boston and Cleveland. He finished the regular season with averages of 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1 block per game. Gasol then won his first NBA championship ring when the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
On December 24, 2009 Gasol signed a 3-year extension with the Lakers worth $64.7 million. Gasol earned his third All-Star appearance as a reserve for the Western Conference and finished the regular season with averages of 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.7 blocks. In Game 6 of the first round, Gasol grabbed 18 rebounds and his last-second putback eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, he averaged 23.5 points and 14.5 rebounds. In Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Gasol scored 19 points, (6–16 FGM-A, 7–13 FTM-A) grabbed 18 rebounds and recorded two blocks as the Lakers repeated as champions. In 2010, he was chosen as the 15th-smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News.
Challenged by Lakers' coach Phil Jackson to be more assertive while Bryant recovered from offseason knee surgery, Gasol started the season's first week averaging 25.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting, 10.3 rebounds, and five assists per game as the Lakers started 3–0. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week. He earned his third straight All-Star selection and his season averages of 19 points and 10 rebounds are nearly identical to what he's put up as a Laker the previous three seasons. Pau's play also merited him All-NBA second team honors for the first time in his career. In the playoffs Gasol's average of 13 points on 42% shooting over 10 games and lack of aggression had the Lakers team suffering all the more for it, getting swept out of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round. Gasol had the worst post season performance of his career. Lakers Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Magic Johnson cited Gasol as a possible trade option for the Lakers to acquire Magic center Dwight Howard. Gasol ignored the false reports about his relationship status with his girlfriend as the cause of his poor performance and has accepted the criticism of his play as valid. During the 2011–12 N season, Gasol and teammate Lamar Odom were subjected to trade rumors involving former New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul. After the trade fell through, Gasol vowed that it would not affect the way he played. Odom, on the other hand, was angry at the Laker organization and was traded to the 2010–11 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks for a future first round pick. After Lakers co-captain Derek Fisher was traded in March 2012, Gasol joined Bryant as co-captains of the team.[