4 NBA Finals MVPs with whom Pau Gasol was once teammates with
Pau Gasol spent 19 great seasons in the NBA creating records and ushering a wave of international players into the NBA. The center spent his early years in Spain, beginning his career with FC Barcelona before moving overseas to star in the NBA in 2001.
He was selected by the Atlanta Hawks as a first-round pick in the 2001 NBA draft, before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Pau Gasol performed brilliantly for the Grizzlies in his first season, bagging the NBA Rookie of the year award and also being selected into the All-Rookie First Team.
He spent six more seasons with the Western Conference outfit before leaving in search of championship success and joining the L.A. Lakers in 2008. At the Lakers, Pau Gasol had some of his best performances, winning back-to-back championships with NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
After leaving the Lakers in 2014, Gasol went on to play for the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, rounding up his NBA career with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019.
Pau Gasol played a total of 1,226 games with the four NBA teams he featured for, playing with some of the best names in the modern-day NBA. But for all his many achievements, he never won the Finals MVP award. However, let’s take a look at the NBA Final MVPs he teamed up with during his distinguished career.
#1 Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers, 2008-2014)
Kobe Bryant happens to be the only person on the list who won the Finals MVP award while playing with Pau Gasol. He once quipped that playing with Gasol clicked from the start and it was evident throughout their time together. Both players struck up a life-long friendship after Gasol was traded by the Grizzlies in February 2008.
They wasted no time capturing their first title together after defeating the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Finals, with Bryant bagging the Finals MVP award.
The Lakers made a return to the Finals the next season, defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 7 to win Pau Gasol his second and final NBA ring. Black Mamba finished with the Finals MVP award once again.
#2 Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs, 2016-2018)
Pau Gasol spent the majority of the final years of his career with the San Antonio Spurs. He teamed up with Kawhi Leonard for two of his three seasons with the Spurs. Leonard had already made a name for himself, winning the Finals MVP award in 2014 as the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat to take home the first ring of his career.
The pair had combined wonderfully in their first season, reaching the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs lost to the Golden State Warriors, with The Claw missing most of the series having sustained an injury.
Their final season together took a turn for the worse as Leonard featured sparingly in the 2017-18 season. By the end of the season, the tension between the player and Spurs had reached boiling point. There were additional rumors of a fractured relationship with Pau Gasol and most of his teammates.
That led to Leonard being traded to the Toronto Raptors, amid reports that he requested a trade. He went on to later win his second NBA title and another Finals MVP award.
#3 Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs, 2016-2018)
Tony Parker was another world-class player that Pau Gasol got the chance to team up with after he joined Spurs in 2016. Both players have starred for their countries on the continental level and in the FIBA World Cup. They have helped in spearheading France and Spain’s basketball teams respectively, for many years. They also raised the international player’s banner in the NBA, ushering in a new dawn in the league.
The world finally got to see both players on the same team during the twilight of their careers. Parker had already achieved everything in the NBA prior to Pau Gasol joining the Spurs, acquiring four NBA titles and the 2007 Finals MVP award. They failed to pull Spurs to another championship, as Parker, struggling with injuries, left Spurs in 2018 and retired after taking a short spell with the Hornets a year later.
#4 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks 2018-19)
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the last NBA Finals MVP winner the Spanish Giant played with in his career. Pau Gasol got the chance to team up with the Greek Freak after signing for the Milwaukee Bucks in March of 2019.
Meal Ticket was however unable to contribute meaningfully to the Bucks playoffs as he had intended. Gasol went on to suffer a disappointing ankle injury that meant he featured in only three games in his Bucks career. He never got the chance to play for the Bucks or build a good relationship with Antentokounmpo. He left in July that year, signing for the Portland Trail Blazers before being waived off by the Blazers without featuring for them in a single game.
Meanwhile, Antetokounmpko went on to capture a maiden championship title and Finals MVP award in the process.