Pau Gasol: Kobe Bryant inspired me to play for Spain in Tokyo Olympics

Pau Gasol of Spain and Kobe Bryant of Team USA at the London Olympics
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Pau Gasol, derailed by a foot injury, hasn’t played in the NBA in more than two years. He considered retirement. He turned 41 earlier this month.

Yet, Gasol is playing for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics.

A reason: His late friend, Kobe Bryant.

Gasol, via Mark Medina of USA Today:

“I kept him in mind a lot of the days to say hey, ‘Kobe would be pushing himself,’” Gasol told USA TODAY Sports. “Kobe would not be taking this workout easy or not skipping anything. He would be really disciplined, trusting and being committed to the work. He’s always a big presence with me. He’s always going to be an inspiration and motivation in my life.”

“He really pushed himself to the limit,” Gasol said. “He pushed through a lot of injuries and a lot of pain and discomfort. He was relentless and very disciplined on his rehab and his recovery. During my recovery, I always had him present.”

Bryant remains an inspiration to so many people for his drive, competitiveness and work ethic.

Bryant motivating Gasol around the Olympics is especially fitting.