Rafael Nadal, Usain Bolt, and Pau Gasol pose with the 2013 French Open trophy
Rafael Nadal recently paid tribute to Pau Gasol after the Spanish basketball player announced his retirement from the sport. Over the course of a 23-year career, Gasol won two NBA titles, as well as three Olympic medals.
Gasol represented Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. He left the league after dealing with a left-foot injury for over a year, and returned to his boyhood club in Barcelona last year, helping them to a first championship in seven years.
In a recent interview with Cadena SER, Nadal heaped praise on the six-time All-Star, calling him a “legend” of Spanish sport.
“The reality is that it is a sad day in a way,” he said. “One of the great legends of our sport is leaving. I honestly think I’m very happy for him. He has been able to finish his career the way he wanted, playing and fighting for titles and doing it at a very high level. He leaves behind a legacy that I believe is indelible in every way.”
Nadal added that his relationship with Gasol goes “far beyond sports.”
“Our relationship goes far beyond sports. I think that in the future we will continue to have a fantastic relationship and maybe we can do things together,” he said. “When two people understand each other, the world is open to joining the paths. We have already done it many times with our foundations and why not continue doing things that both amuse us and that somehow make us spend more time together.”
Nadal and Gasol are both huge fans of golf and the 20-time Slam champion hinted at the possibility of the two teeing off together in the future.
“Now he’s playing golf and so am I, so maybe we can compete around there (laughs). In the end I think it is a social sport and that will also unite us in the future,” Rafael Nadal said.
“It’s a sad day on a sporting level, but I think he deserves to do what he wants” – Rafael Nadal on Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol announced his retirement at a press conference in Barcelona
During the course of the interview, Rafael Nadal touched upon the aspects of Pau Gasol’s character that made him so popular among sports fans. Nadal said Gasol achieved things in basketball that nobody in Spain thought was possible at the time.
“Pau has exceeded any possible limit,” he said. “He is a legend in every way and I think he has achieved something very difficult: to do things that seemed impossible from our country, now we see him as usual. He played in the NBA, won rings, was in the All-Star, triumph with the Spanish team, has been a leader, etc. All this has been achieved from respect and education.””I think in that sense, for some reason, he is who he is and his legacy goes far beyond sports. It’s a sad day on a sporting level, but I think he deserves to do what he wants. To this day I can only wish him the best,” Rafael Nadal added.