The Spanish power forward for the San Antonio Spurs, Pau Gasol, has assured that at his 37th birthday he still has “a lot of gasoline” to continue competing in the NBA.
«I want to play the maximum number of seasons, as long as I feel good. I have played 16 years in the NBA and I hope to play some more, but I have to keep working and that injuries respect me, as they have been up to now ”, Gasol explained to EFE in Barcelona, where this week he organized the Pau Gasol Academy, his basketball campus for children.
The Sant Boi player has not yet renewed with Spurs, although he has affirmed that there is “great interest” on both sides, and hopes to reach an agreement “as soon as possible”.
After failing to sign point guard Chris Paul, a new Rockets player, and the acquisition of forward Rudy Gay, Gasol is confident that the Texan team will maintain “the highest level” once the registration section is closed in the always difficult Western Conference.
“All the teams in the West, especially the important ones, are strengthening themselves a lot to compete and try to beat the first level, like the Spurs,” he added.
With the increase in the salary cap and increasing contracts, the Catalan player ensures that players like Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks) or the already retired Kobe Bryant (Lakers) or Tim Duncan (Spurs), who have played in a single team for 20 consecutive seasons, they are “role models.”
On the other hand, Gasol stresses that team changes are part of the “nature of the league” today. “Now it is unusual to find players who spend their entire careers in the same team and it is difficult because in many cases that players stay in their teams does not depend on them,” he said.
Regarding his coach in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich, the power forward has described him as a “very charismatic and intelligent coach, but at the same time very emotional.”
“Popovich is a different and interesting person and a very special coach, probably one of the best in history,” he added.
Gasol will play this summer with the Spanish team in the European, a competition that he assures is “difficult and always competitive” and has warned that there will be teams “of a high level.”
“There are players and young teams who are rising and want to win, so it will not be easy,” he asserted, although he also warned that the Spanish team is “very powerful.”
He points out that the key will be to “make a good preparation” in the month before the Eurobasket and that the injuries “respect” the team led by Sergio Scariolo.
Gasol has not clarified whether the European will be his last tournament with the national team, although he admits: “It can always be”, although he has also pointed out: “Fortunately, I have always been playing one more tournament,” he clarifies.
From the next one, the FIBA windows of national teams are implemented, which will be played during the course, and that the players NBA and most likely those of the Euroleague will not be able to play as it is incompatible with the calendar of their respective clubs.
The Catalan player describes these windows as “strange” and is sure that they will create “tensions” between the clubs and the highest body in the world of basketball.
«If there are national teams that cannot have their best players – either because they are in the NBA or in the Euroleague-, I think it is a major problem for FIBA, “he says.
Although he does not set a date for his retirement, Gasol faces his future “with enthusiasm, ambition and projects” and has explained that he and his team are working to make the transition away from the fields “as smooth as possible.”
Regarding his activity off the courts, the international pivot has pointed out: «The Gasol Foundation grows year after year and we are making very important alliances so that our programs are more efficient and have more impact. In addition, we want to establish bridges between the United States and Spain, especially at the business level. EFE