Pau Gasol earns 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award

Orel Dizon
4 Min Read

Even after retiring as a player from the NBA, former Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol has continued to impact the basketball world by advocating for important causes.

One of the pressing matters that he has been addressing in recent years is equality in sports. In 2018, he published an open letter about female coaches in The Players’ Tribune, where he made a case for the NBA to embrace growth by encouraging and defending women to play key roles in the league.

More recently, Gasol has looked to help the WNBA progress by taking part in the community and investing in the league. As such, he has been bestowed the 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award.

“Today, the WNBA announced that NBA legend and six-time All-Star Pau Gasol has been named the recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award for his significant contributions to the advancement of girls’ and women’s basketball, and advocacy for the WNBA,” an official WNBA press release read. “Pau Gasol is the second recipient of the award after Chris Paul was named the inaugural recipient in 2022. The WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Vanessa Bryant will present Gasol the award during the NBA All-Star 2023 Game in Utah on Sunday, February 19, 2023.”

Vanessa Bryant expressed elation that the good friend and former teammate of her late husband was chosen as the recipient of the award.

“I’m so pleased that Pau has been chosen to receive this award,” Vanessa Bryant said. “Pau has done so much to promote women and girls in sports and cares deeply about spreading a message of equality, which was so important to Kobe and Gianna. We are grateful to the WNBA and Pau for continuing to honor Kobe and Gianna in this way.”

According to the press release, Gasol served as an investor for the WNBA’s recent capital raise, one that saw the league raise $75 million in new funding.

Because of his efforts and contributions, the two-time NBA champion is clearly deserving of the award. It has been quite a few days for the retired big man, as he was also recently named a finalist for the 2023 Hall of Fame class.

Incidentally, the first-ever recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award was Paul, a current star for the Phoenix Suns. As many Lakers fans probably know, the careers of Gasol and Paul are somewhat intertwined because of a failed trade in the 2011 offseason.

Following the resolution of the 2011 NBA lockout, a proposed three-team deal that would have sent Paul to the Lakers and Gasol to the Houston Rockets was in place, but former NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed the trade.

As a result, Gasol remained in Los Angeles and played with the Lakers for three more seasons. As for Paul, he missed out on the opportunity to play alongside Kobe Bryant.

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