Six-time NBA All-Star and 2023 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame finalist Pau Gasol was named the recipient of the 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, the WNBA announced on Sunday. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert will present Gasol with the award during the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.
"I'm so pleased that Pau has been chosen to receive this award," Vanessa Bryant, widow of Kobe Bryant and chair of the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, said in a press release. "Pau has done so much to promote women and girls in sports and cares deeply about spreading a message of equality, which was so important to Kobe and Gianna. We are grateful to the WNBA and Pau for continuing to honor Kobe and Gianna in this way."
The Kobe and Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award was created in 2022 as a way to honor those who "use their time, talent, and platform to raise awareness for the WNBA, and women's and girls' basketball." Gasol was a key investor in the WNBA's capital raise in 2022, is a vocal proponent of female coaches in the NBA and has advocated for women to have increased opportunities in all sports around the world.
Gasol spent six-and-a-half of his 18 seasons in the NBA playing alongside Kobe Bryant. Together, the inside-outside duo helped the Los Angeles Lakers win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Since Bryant's tragic passing, Gasol has remained close with the Bryant family, and even gave his daughter the middle name "Gianna" after Bryant's late daughter.
"It is an honor to receive this distinction, which makes me especially happy because it represents two people who are and will always be in my heart," Gasol said. "Kobe's work, especially during his later years, to support women's sports is an excellent example of where we must direct our efforts to ensure full equality in sports."
Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award recipients
- 2022: Chris Paul
- 2023: Pau Gasol