Pau Gasol Imparts Life Lessons Through 'Emotional' Retrospective of His Basketball Career

Pau Gasol tells PEOPLE about his new documentary Pau Gasol: It's About the Journey and his life after retiring from basketball in October

Pau Gasol Documentary Episode 4
Photo: Amazon Prime Video

Pau Gasol is reflecting on the ups and downs of his basketball career.

The athlete, who retired from his sport in October, is getting ready for fans to see him like never before — unfiltered, candid and emotional — in his new Amazon Prime Video documentary Pau Gasol: It's About the Journey.

"It's always emotional and special to look back at such a unique chapter of your life. In this case my basketball career," he says. "It's been super special to see my parents, my brothers, my teammates, my friends really talk about moments and how they were experiencing it. To have some of the most — if not the most — important people in your life, reflect on it as well and how they've experienced it and the role that they played in it, it's been really emotional."

Gasol's last NBA game took place in March 2019, and two months later, he underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. In the documentary, fans will follow a timeline of his recovery and the countless appointments with his medical team all while reflecting on his decades-long career.

The athlete was the third overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft and joined the Memphis Grizzlies. He would go on to become the first Spanish player to win two NBA Championships (with the Los Angeles Lakers) and be named an NBA All-Star six times. He was also internationally renowned as a two-time ACB League champion with FC Barcelona, a World Championship player and three-time European champion as well as a three-time Olympic medalist with two silvers and one bronze.

In addition to his parents and brothers giving their accounts of Gasol's childhood and career highlights, the star's former teammates and opponents, including Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Shane Battier, Kevin Garnett, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, share their recollections. Gasol also sits down with his former coach and mentor Phil Jackson for advice.

"Those moments are great," Gasol says. "It's so special to see, Derek, Lamar, even Kevin Garnett talking. Everyone just talking about their perspective, how they felt in those moments and how they feel about me. So super special, it's almost like a jewel to me."

Tragically, one very important friend was not able to give his take on Gasol as a teammate. During the filming of the documentary, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant were killed in a January 2020 helicopter crash that also took the lives of seven others. "That's something horrible that we wish never happened. I miss him terribly," Gasol tells PEOPLE of Bryant, whom he called his older brother.

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty

Throughout the episodes, Bryant's influence on Gasol is always present. Gasol's dedication and drive on the court can partly be credited to the lessons he learned from Bryant, who was one of the best students of the game.

In a Cinderella-style ending, the Spanish star — who welcomed his first child in September 2020 — closed out his career last March by re-signing and winning the 2020-21 Liga Endesa championship with FC Barcelona, where he began his professional career more than 20 years ago. Also this summer, he played his fifth and final time with the Spanish national basketball team in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics.

"Definitely some tears watching and rewatching episodes because it's been quite a bit of a process as well, to not just record but to see them, to give input, to edit, to help the editing process of it," Gasol says of the doc. "I feel more even privileged and lucky, when you look at how much you have experienced, how much you've gone through and the impact that it's had on my family."

In addition to returning to the court and the Olympics, audiences will watch Gasol cross a couple more things off his bucket list, including being elected as the newest member of the International Olympic Committee in August. Having accomplished many of his goals as a basketball player, Gasol announced his retirement in October.

These days, he says his "health is good" and he's making moves off the court.

"Luckily, my body is thanking me for stopping pushing it so hard. I've had the ability and flexibility to dictate my own schedule. I'm always interested in doing a lot of stuff. So for me, the challenge is going to be not to fill up my plate too much so I can continue to be present at home with my wife and daughter, which is something that I've enjoyed as well," he says.

As for the near future, Gasol will be traveling to Beijing in February for the Winter Olympics as an IOC member. Beyond that, he's hoping for a future role as an executive in the NBA.

"It is an interest. I'm already talking to a few teams in order to see what would that look like, and explore more so the executive route because the coaching just requires so much dedication and presence," he says of his front office aspirations. "The executive route or the advisor, consultant route, you have more flexibility. You can stay at home more."

The father of one adds, "I'm watching NBA games. I'm staying up to date with the game and the players. And I want to be a part of the game in whichever way that I feel is the best fit for the league, for the game, for a team specifically. I'm excited to explore it and I am having conversations. It might not happen this season, it might happen next season because I don't want to rush into something right away. So again, one step at a time."

Pau Gasol
Prime Video

With Pau Gasol: It's About the Journey, the athlete charts his life from being a child with big basketball dreams to a man content with his career accomplishments and the legacy he's created.

"I've shared a little bit of my philosophy of life," he says. "There are going to be tensions along the way. There are going to be emotions, which is normal. But again, it's just part of it. It's part of the journey. That's what I hope they take away and some of the reasons why I've been successful and how important it's to prepare and to transition into a new chapter."

Gasol adds, "It'll hit people in a different way, probably depending on where they are, depending what's their background. ... It's not just about sports, the game and basketball. It's about life. It's about human values. It's about being vulnerable. It's about dealing with uncertainty."

Lastly, he reminds audiences to surround themselves with those who uplift and support.

"It takes a tribe. It's not just you, it takes the support of your loved ones, of your family. I've been extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family with my parents and my brothers. I've got great teammates along the way and coaches, and I have a great wife," he credits. "It's not just me. It's not about me. It's about the team."

Gasol concludes, "Overall what I wanted to express, it's what the title tries to capture. That it's about the journey. It's about enjoying every step of the way. It's about surrounding yourself with people that you love, you appreciate, help you and contribute to your journey — and you contribute to theirs."

Pau Gasol: It's About the Journey premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Nov. 12.

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