Pau Gasol’s exclusive interview before Hall of Fame induction

“Everything happened so fast. You have played for a team as long as I did for the Grizzlies; in my case for 6½ years. Then you get the news that you have been traded. Never been traded before. Three hours later or so after they tell me, I’m on a plane to L.A. because I’ve got to get a physical the next morning. So, land in L.A. late, 10 p.m., go to the hotel, try to get some rest, get my physical in the morning and then I get on a 1 p.m., or whatever, flight to Washington, D.C, across the country, because that’s where the team was. I said, ‘OK, let’s go.’ I met the team the next day, but Kobe wanted to see me that same night after I talked to the media in D.C. Kobe obviously gave me the welcome and gave me the message: ‘Happy you’re here, but let’s go win. Let’s go win us a ring.’ That was music to my ears. But obviously he set the tone. He gave me that thing of this is how it’s going to be. It’s not about making the playoffs. It’s not about let’s give ourselves a chance. None of that. ‘We are here and you’re here for us to win a ring, to win a championship. Let’s do it. Have a good night.’ I said, ‘All right, I’m in.’ He got me.

“Then they played the game the next day in D.C. and then I fly to Memphis to pack, because I had nothing. I had to pack my bags and bring them to New Jersey the next day. Got my first practice in the day before the game and started playing and played a few games, played pretty well. Then we had the All-Star weekend and just started to get settled. I just tried to do the best I could, really. Worked hard. Had a pretty significant impact right away. We were able to finish first in the Western Conference. Kobe got the MVP of the season, his only MVP of the regular season, which that obviously gave me a lot of pride because I was able to contribute to that for him and his family. Then we got to the Finals the first season, got to two other Finals after that, won those last two. Very special.”