Happy, together with president Joan Laporta and posing with his family, his parents, his brother Adrià, his wife Catherine and six-month-old daughter Elisabet Gianna, Pau Gasol has been introduced as a Barcelona player. At the age of 40, honored with all the honors and at the same Palau Blaugrana that he said goodbye to 20 years ago to triumph in the NBA and in the Spanish team, he was sincere. “Maybe I’m not the same Pau who left here 20 years ago, nor am I the same Pau I was 10 years ago, but I’m still a special player who hopes to contribute unique things to the team and the club.”
The return of Pau was known on February 20 and was announced by the club three days later. He arrived in Barcelona on March 3 and underwent a medical examination five days later. Since then he has been gradually joining team training. But the question remains about when he will be able to play again. He has not competed for two years due to the injury to the scaphoid in his left foot that forced him to undergo surgery twice. “We have an idea,” he commented, “but we have not established in which game I will be able to return. I hope it’s soon. We are all looking forward to it. The team is very good in form and rhythm and it is important that I pick up a little rhythm to provide that touch of quality and difference in those (important) moments ”. The intrigue about when he will be able to play again centered many of the questions posed to him: “We are progressing, and I have good feelings, but always with my feet on the ground. I’ve seen the light for a few days and I want to go back ”.
Playing again at 40 and after having suffered such a serious injury is a challenge for the new 16 Barça player. “I return with the same enthusiasm and desire to do well and enjoy 20 years ago. I did not want such a beautiful stage to end with a fairly serious injury, which removes most of the players who suffer it, especially at this point. But I want to end well ”.
Gasol summarized the process of his injury. “It was difficult. Since the alarms went off in San Antonio. You think it is not very serious, but things are getting worse. As I have always been very competitive, I pushed forward until I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to go to Milwaukee, the foot did not hold (that was when he had surgery for the first time). After a few months, I signed for Portland, but relapsed; the bone suffered. I had surgery again and a process to see what happens began. But I always wanted to give myself the opportunity and I worked with my team in a time that has been difficult. The discipline and the illusion of competing has made it possible. Knowing that I have had a phenomenal career, no, the next thing, I wanted to put this icing on the cake and end up enjoying and competing ”.
He also referred to his personal experience in the last two years in which he has lost several personal friends, such as Kobe Bryant or Pau Donés. “I have learned to relativize a lot. It has been two very difficult years. This pandemic has left us a lot of pain. I have lost close friends. You learn to put things in perspective. I have been lucky to be a father. (This time) has taught me the value of being with the people you love, doing what you want and not taking anything for granted because any day you can finish the movie ”.
Pau’s return to Barça was a recurring theme on different occasions. Once it had become a reality, the Catalan player explained the final process: “It all came about thanks to the conversations I started having with Juan Carlos, who occupies a position at the club, and we began to see the possibility, as he was considering other options. From there it was conceived, thanks to Juan Carlos. And it was also important that Saras (Jasikevicius) saw it and saw that it could be positive. And I will believe in the opportunity and in the process of joining the team, understanding that I am in a special moment because I have not competed for two years ”. Pau Gasol repeated on several occasions that he focuses on day-to-day work, explained that he will make decisions based on how he is feeling and assured that talking about next season “is a bit premature.”