Well, illness ladies, the time has finally come. On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls open the 2014-2015 season against the New York Knicks. There was a lot of talk this past summer over who the Bulls would bring on to replace Carlos Boozer (most notably Carmelo Anthony, who, like Lebron James, decided that “home is where the heart is”, despite the Bulls’ best efforts), it was time to turn to a player on the international level. And that player is sexy Spaniard Pau Gasol, our HAM of the Week.
The 34-year-old Barcelona native is most likely going to be in the starting lineup as a power forward/center, and we honestly can’t wait to see him show off his skills.
He’s no stranger to championships, either. He won two NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers, is a four-time All-Star and a three-time All-NBA selection. He also earned NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2002, the only non-American NBA player to win the award.
The 7-foot, 250-lbs Gasol was selected by the Atlanta Hawks with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2001 NBA draft, but was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies soon after. He played seven seasons with the team before being traded to the Lakers in 2008.
Gasol began his basketball career playing for FC Barcelona Basquet, playing with his school team and Barcelona’s junior and senior teams during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons. He would later pick up two Olympic silver medals with the Spanish national basketball team in 2008 and 2012.
Gasol also has immense dedication: he played all 164 games in his first two NBA seasons. In 2005, Gasol earned his 5,000th point and 500th block in January 2005 against the Indiana Pacers, the 10th fastest player to reach the feat since the 1973-74 season. He continued to set records in points, rebounds, assists and blocked shots in the Grizzlies franchise, and helped lead the team to three straight playoff appearances. Those stats helped him earn an appearance at the 2006 NBA All-Star game. He also helped Spain win the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where he was named MVP.
Gasol earned his third straight All-Star selection and All-NBA second team honors in the 2010-2011 season and served as co-captain with Kobe Bryant the following season. He also earned the 2011-2012 Community Assist Award for his charitable efforts in children’s education and health, proving that he is a “champion on the court and in the community”.
Following the 2010 NBA Championship win, Sporting News named Gasol one of the 20 Smartest Athletes. Fun fact: he left the University of Barcelona medical school to pursue his basketball career. And he speaks three languages–Catalan, Spanish and English.
He’s very active on social media, and often tweets in both English and Spanish. And while he’s taken (for now!) we can’t help but stare at his amazing features, from his gorgeous brown locks to his soft brown eyes. Plus, he is superior at selfies:
Looks like things certainly run in the family, as Gasol‘s younger (and equally gorgeous) brother Marc is a current forward for the Grizzlies (but was actually selected by the Lakers in the 2007 NBA Draft).
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) July 23, 2014
Gasol is a fresh change to the lineup, and he’s obviously a great fit with the team. And bonus: the Bulls get an extra-spooky showdown with Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.