Lakers and Celtics are the two biggest franchises in NBA history, and there’s not even much discussion about it. Each one has the same 17 rings that accumulate between the next three with more (six Golden State Warriors and Chicago Bulls, five San Antonio Spurs). Their battles are the bones of the NBA, the foundations of a building that was barely standing, threatened to be demolished, when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird arrived and that today can afford luxurious finishes, gold finishes. An essential tome in the history of American sports, the Lakers and the Celtics have met in twelve NBA Finals. Five of them have been resolved in the electrified trench of the seventh game. In the last one, in 2010, the Lakers clung to the title as best they could at the Staples Center, suffering as condemned in a very tough game that ended with more blows and nervous breakdowns than points (83-79). In which Kobe Bryant was almost buried by infernal pressure (6 of 24 shooting) and in which the figure of Pau Gasol rose, almost in tatters: 19 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists and more than 42 minutes on the track. In the tie, 18.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 blocks. And this brooch from Phil Jackson, surely the best coach in history: “We would not have won without Pau Gasol.”
Featured in the photograph, the role of the main protagonist, of one of the premium scenes of world sport, a seventh game for the ring between Lakers and Celtics, Pau Gasol navigated the central knot of a race so exceptional that it managed, and surely the most difficult still, that we normalize the amazing. Before him, the history of the NBA in Spain was limited to 146 minutes of Fernando Martín, a man in space in the distant 80s. Then came the invasion, the airlift. The National Team went from winning every now and then to running out of place in the showcases, becoming one of the great names in the history of FIBA basketball. And in the NBA, after sewing his name to that of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, more than a teammate, he was an all star representing the Bulls that had been Michael Jordan and played for the Spurs of the eternal dynasty under the command of Gregg Popovich, another who might be the best coach ever.
Like Pat Riley, who went from the benches to the offices and built in the Miami Heat that supernova that won two titles with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. In 2014, when faced with the impossible, His plan to try to get LeBron to abort his return to Cleveland included, among other movements, the signing of Pau Gasol, who at 34 was still a name that could influence the great landslides that whimsically redesign, every summer, the map of the NBA. The compliments of Phil Jackson, the meeting with Gregg Popovich, the courtship of Pat Riley … The certainty that Pau Gasol was a transcendental player in the NBA for more than a decade in which, in addition, he sowed terror every time he got the shirt of a Spain that, with him as a banner, He went from trying to take down giants to being the giant. A time when our basketball reached so many milestones, rose so many eight-thousand, that we just ended up normalizing the awesome. And that, above all, may be the great legacy that Pau Gasol leaves behind. Immense, unfathomable: something that we have lived and with which those who come from now on will rub their eyes. Something ours, forever.