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Should Lakers retire Pau Gasol’s jersey? Luke Walton says yes

By in Press Enterprise on January 12, 2018

By Bill Oram

LOS ANGELES — When Pau Gasol tweeted on Thursday that he was “proud” to play under Kobe Bryant’s recently retired jerseys, Bryant responded with three figures that can be found on the top row of the keyboard.

“#16,” Bryant wrote.

#16 https://t.co/7xS5IKVrWl

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 11, 2018

It was a not so subtle nudge to Lakers executives to make sure that one day Gasol’s number hangs alongside his. The two won championships together in 2009 and ’10.

Bryant wasn’t the first to suggest that Gasol, who is in his 18th season in the NBA should eventually have his number retired. Others have countered that he was a Laker for only six-plus seasons and was never the best player on his team.

Following Thursday’s shootaround in El Segundo, Lakers coach Luke Walton put himself in the former category.

“My first gut instinct is yes,” Walton said. “He’s a teammate and we won championships because of him. Obviously when we traded for him, everything turned around for us here.”

Walton acknowledged that the bar has been set extremely high by the 10 players who have their jerseys retired.

“It is tough for the Lakers,” Walton said, “because the names up there aren’t just great players. They are all-time greats (and) a lot of them spent a lot of their career in L.A.”

Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were the first Lakers to have their numbers retired before they entered the Hall of Fame. Gasol is a virtual lock for Springfield, not only for what he accomplished with the Lakers but his impact globally.

Speaking to reporters in San Antonio this week, Gasol said “it would be a huge honor, without a doubt” to have his number retired.

“We had some unbelievable years with a great team, top to bottom,” he said. “It’s not something I think about, […]    

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