Pau Gasol i Sáez (pronounced IPA ) (born July 6, 1980 in Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain) is a 2.13 m (7 ft.) Spanish professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was born to Marisa Sáez and Agustí Gasol, and he spent his childhood growing up in Spain. Gasol's brother, Marc Gasol, is also a professional basketball player. Gasol was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2001 NBA Draft, but his rights were traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He currently holds the Memphis Grizzlies franchise records for career games played, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points. After seven seasons with the team, Gasol was traded to the Lakers on February 1, 2008, and a USA Today newspaper article said he was "the major factor in turning around a storied NBA franchise and making it hip to be a Lakers fan again."
Gasol began playing basketball with his school team called Alvirne, and he eventually signed with Cornellà. When he was sixteen, he began playing for Barcelona's junior team. He also won both the 1998 Albert Schweitzer Tournament and the 1998 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship. After moving to the senior team of Barcelona, Gasol played just eleven total minutes in the 1998-99 season, and averaged under 15 minutes per game in the next year. However, in his final season in Europe, Gasol averaged 11.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in just under 24 minutes per game. Barcelona was victorious in the Spanish National Cup championship game in 2001, and Gasol was named Most Valuable Player. After entering the NBA Draft, Gasol was selected third overall in the first round in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, who traded his draft rights to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
In Gasol's first season with the Grizzlies, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, and was named to the All-Rookie first team. He averaged 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, and was also the only team member to play in all 82 games that season. Gasol led the team in scoring (19.0 points per game) in his second year with the team, and for the second year in a row, played in all 82 games. Gasol missed the first game of his career, during his third year, with a foot injury on April 5, 2004, which snapped his string of 240 consecutive games played. He grabbed the 1,500th rebound of his career on November 12, 2003, against the Orlando Magic and scored his 3,000th career point on October 31, 2003, against the Boston Celtics. Despite having 22 points in Game 4 against the San Antonio Spurs, the highest by a Memphis players in the playoffs, his team was eliminated in the first round, not winning a single game against San Antonio. This was both the Grizzlies and Gasol's first trip to the NBA Playoffs. He scored 31 points and blocked four shots on January 11, 2005, against the Indiana Pacers to earn 5,000 points and 500 blocks in his career, becoming the 10th fastest player to reach 5,000 points/500 blocks since 1973-74. He also helped his team make it to the playoffs for the second time in his career, but they were eliminated in the first round and did not win a single game against the Phoenix Suns.