Future Hall of Famer Pau Gasol will resume his basketball career where it began.
The six-time NBA All-Star and two-time champion announced on Twitter that he will return to FC Barcelona. A native of the city, Gasol began playing for Barcelona's junior team at the age of 16. Debuting for the senior team in 1999, he won two Spanish League championships, winning 2001 Finals MVP honors, before joining the Memphis Grizzlies.
Very happy to come back home.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Força Barça! 🔵🔴 pic.twitter.com/6CewIY2Bil
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 23, 2021
"I want to put my skills and experience at the disposal of the club at a key point in the season, while at the saame time making progress in my physical condition and getting into the rhythm of competition," Gasol, now 40 years old, announced on Twitter. "I'm happy to return to the club where I began, and I'm excited about this new opportunity."
Gasol has not played since March 2019, when a left foot injury prematurely ended his season three games into his Milwaukee Bucks tenure. He was previously released by the San Antonio Spurs. The No. 3 overall pick in 1998, Gasol played 18 NBA seasons. He spent his first six-seasons in Memphis before his trade to the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008 tilted the league's balance. Gasol was key to Kobe Bryant winning his fourth and fifth rings in L.A.
Gasol was not shy about expressing his desire to return to the NBA. He signed with the Portland Trail Blazers prior to the 2019-20 season, but never played a game for them, having not fulled recovered from the same left foot injury. Continuing his rehab from two surgeries to the navicular bone in his left foot, Gasol told ESPN's Zach Lowe in December 2020 that he wanted to play with his brother Marc on the Lakers and for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics.
"There is meaning and history there," he said. "I'm not going to lie. It would be very special, and now that my brother is there, even more special. But I'm not in a position now to be very demanding. I don't have 10 offers on the table."
Gasol has previously played in four Olympic Games, leading Team Spain to silver medals in 2008 and 2012 and a bronze medal in 2016. He has won four gold medals in international competition with the Spanish national team — the 2006 FIBA World Cup and three EuroBasket titles. He is the EuroBasket tournament's all-time leading scorer.
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