Ambassador for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Pau Gasol is ecstatic to be in Sydney for the last moments of the tournament so that he may watch it with his family.
Gasol has won the World Cup, been named the tournament’s most valuable player in 2006, won several Olympic medals, and won the EuroBasket tournament three times. So he knows that the remaining teams in Sydney have some of the top female basketball players in the world.
“This tournament is amazing, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m honored to serve as an official representative of the World Cups, beginning with the Women’s World Cup in Sydney “at a press conference before the first semi-final game between the USA and Canada, Gasol made this statement.
His enthusiasm for both his role as an ambassador for women’s basketball and for seeing the world’s greatest basketball players vie for the championship is palpable.
A diplomat’s sense of honor
His response was, “It means a lot to me.” “After retiring from professional sports, I took on a few ambassador jobs for various groups. This honor from FIBA means a lot to me because of the many achievements I’ve had in the sport.”
“It means a lot to me to be able to come out and show my support for the game, as well as the development of women’s basketball and other female-focused sports. I’m doing everything I can to carry on the work started by Kobe and Gigi and the rest of the Bryant family. That’s incredibly significant to me on a personal level.”
“I have a kid and adore this sport for all of these reasons and more. I want my girls grow up knowing that they have the same chances and can go wherever a male can.”
Caring for the future by carrying forward the past
Gasol wore a Kobe Bryant-inspired T-shirt to the news conference, highlighting the longtime interest in women’s basketball shared by himself and the late basketball great.
“Having a daughter like Gigi, who loved and played basketball, must have been very affirming for Kobe. Then he began leading their team’s sessions, and I attended one of them to provide what little instruction and guidance I could to the young ladies “According to Gasol, their shared dedication to the sport’s promotion was what ultimately pulled them together.
“Realizing that many young women see no way ahead motivated me to take action and open doors previously closed to them. Because we now know that treating people this way is wrong, the road taken was different from the one taken by boys and men. We need to take action and make some changes.”
“One of the main reasons I’ve participated is because of this. I strongly think that the world should be a just, reasonable, and right place.”
As he put it, “Kobe and I have something in common, just like other things; we both enjoy the way that things are heading, the progress that has been done, and I believe that there’s a lot more that we could continue to accomplish and will.”
“As his younger brother, I’m simply trying to carry on in some little way what he began and preserve his legacy in any way that I can.”
In other words, “We’re in the same game”
Gasol believes that prominent male basketball players can do more to promote women’s basketball if they remain loud and demonstrative in their admiration for the sport. There is a positive trend in basketball that should be sustained.
Gasol believes that more and more male athletes are coming up to express their support for women in sports.
“More men’s and male players have been observed advocating for merging the men’s and women’s games into a single sport. I’m glad to hear that there’s been an uptick in conversations on the need for space between us. For the simple reason that we are all related. We’re all here because we share a passion for the game we’re playing.”
For as long as I can remember, big brother and little sister have been the default sibling relationships. Gasol’s major point to players who can have an impact on the next generation is this: we’re all in the same game.
“My opinion is that the key is realizing that we’re all in the same sport. When you play a sport at a high level, especially if it is one that is followed, kids are looking up to you and you become some type of role model, so it’s important to spread the word about that and encourage participation in sports among both boys and girls. Your’s just expected of you in that role. You can’t cherry-pick the good stuff and leave the bad stuff behind. I believe it is important to make the most of the platform given to you and to urge them all to convey the proper message by going above and above in this regard. Being active is a fantastic first step.”
To be told stories
There is still work to be done, but as Gasol said, we are making progress. Gasol thinks that casual viewers might be won over to women’s tournaments if they paid a little more attention to that end of the game, and he has high expectations that they will.
“In the same way that every championship has its own set of storylines, this one has as well. Occasionally, awe-inspiring and remarkable tales emerge, “His words.
“Personally, I think it all boils down to good tales. Narratives of individual experiences, depictions of the difficulties faced by people, and explanations of the costs incurred. How much enjoyment they get from playing the game, how seriously they take it. In my opinion, there is a lot to enjoy even for those who aren’t already huge fans of women’s basketball.”
Lauren Jackson, a 41-year-old grandmother, is one of those inspiring tales because she is playing a crucial role for the Australian national team in the Women’s World Cup in Sydney. It’s a theme that’s been hammered home throughout the tournament, and Gasol hopes to hear Jackson’s side of the tale at some point.
For Gasol, the return of Jackson served as a reminder that “the things that are what we believe are not achievable, that are not accomplishable, they really are.” “People have a propensity to impose limitations to what we can do or what we should do,” he remarked.
“Athletes and individuals from other walks of life serve as reminders that it is possible to continue performing at a high level far into old age. You’ll have to put in some work for it to happen. It’s hard to imagine since it’ll need effort, and it isn’t easy, but if we genuinely want to do anything, and are prepared to put in the effort and make the sacrifices required, we can succeed.”
“It goes without saying that this is a fantastic tale. It’s not simple for a player to play a new role, and that’s part of the beauty. I’d want to hear more from her about how difficult it was for her to go from being such a great player, Hall of Famer, MVP, gold medalist, and so on. Recognize and accept that as you go through life, you may find yourself moving from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat, and that both seats are necessary for the success of the team. It serves as a role model for the next generation of athletes. Stories like that are important, in my opinion. For the sake of sports and the greater good of society.”
Stories like Sabrina Ionescu’s Women’s World Cup debut are very meaningful to Gasol because of how close she is to him in Romania.
He went on to say that he and Sabrina’s bond was inspired by the one he and Kobe had. It’s remarkable how our affection and admiration for Kobe flowed to those closest to him.
“Sabrina and I have gotten really close; she is like my little sister. We keep in regular contact, and it’s been wonderful to see her develop right before our eyes.”
“By the end of the movie, she has recovered enough to continue playing and has made the U.S. squad. During our conversation at training camp, she said that she was still on the fence about whether or not to try out for the team. I reassured her that she would do just fine, and she did. All I was doing was attempting to give her the same sense of assurance and resolve that anybody who knew Kobe would have given her.”
“I just want her to succeed. I believe she’s a fantastic young lady with a bright future ahead of her, and I want to do all I can to support her as she moves on in her endeavors.”
It’s possible that Pau Gasol’s role as an ambassador and his visit to Sydney may seem more like a family outing than anything else. Continuing his older brother Kobe’s legacy is important to him. It’s clear that he’s there for his younger sister, Sabrina. And it’s laying the groundwork for his daughter’s future, too.
“To me, it was crucial and essential when I first began talking with Andreas [Zagklis] about a possible partnership and ambassadorship with FIBA to discuss not just the men’s side but also the women’s side and to promote the sport in its whole, not just the men’s side. Being an ambassador for women’s sports, cheering for the women’s basketball team in the World Cup, and obviously having a close connection with Kobe and his endeavors are all things that mean a lot to me. If he were with us, I think he would be here right now.”
“That’s why I attached so much significance to it. My wife and two-year-old daughter are also here, so it’s not just me showing my support for this cause.”