Basketball legends inducted in Hall of Fame with ceremony as Pau Gasol remembers Kobe Bryant

Basketball legends inducted in Hall of Fame with ceremony as Pau Gasol remembers Kobe Bryant

'Elevated my game like no one other' Pau Gasol pays tribute to Kobe Bryant during his speech

By Emre Asikci

ISTANBUL (AA) - Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, and Dirk Nowitzki headlined this year's class as the NBA honored the legends at the Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony.

Gasol paid a heartfelt tribute to La Lakers legend Kobe Bryant during his Hall Of Fame induction and called his Lakers teammate Bryant "The person who elevated my game like no one, who showed me how hard you have to work and the mentality you have to have to be the best."

"While acknowledging Bryant's wife Vanessa in the audience, I wouldn't be here without you brother. I miss you and Gigi," he added.

Gasol, a 43-year-old Spaniard, joined the Los Angeles Lakers in February 2008 and reached three straight NBA Finals with the franchise.

Vanessa Bryant also attended the ceremony in support of her late husband's teammate.

Bryant died on Jan. 26, 2020, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, when a helicopter crashed on its way to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy, which he founded.

- Gregg Popovich inducted into Hall of Fame

Longtime San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was inducted in the ceremony, where he expressed gratitude for his loved ones, saying, "The wins and losses are all crap," said Popovich. "The highs and lows, all crap. All those wins and losses, they fade away. It's about relationships. Those relationships stick with you forever."

The 74-year-old Popovich described how he built and strengthened such relationships with four different personalities, beginning with another NBA legend, David Robinson.

"With David, well, OK, I curse. I don't want to curse, but you got to be who you are. Players have great BS antennas and if you're not genuine, they'll know in a second. Just be yourself. So David said, 'As long as you don't take the Lord's name in vain, I'm OK with you."

Popovich won the NBA title five times in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014 and was named the NBA Coach of the Year three times.

He was head coach of the US men's national team, which won Olympic gold at the 2020 Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Tony Parker became the first Frenchman to join the NBA Hall of Fame.

French international Parker made appearances for the Spurs for 17 seasons, helping the franchise to win four NBA titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.

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