Pau Gasol explains how Kobe inspired him to play in Tokyo Olympics

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

Kobe Bryant is a big reason why Pau Gasol - at 41 years old and following a lengthy recovery from an injured foot - decided to suit up for Spain at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

In an interview with USA Today's Mark Medina, Gasol explained how his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate was often in his thoughts during his rehab process.

"I kept him in mind a lot of the days to say hey, 'Kobe would be pushing himself,'" Gasol said. "Kobe would not be taking this workout easy or not skipping anything. He would be really disciplined, trusting, and being committed to the work. He's always a big presence with me. He's always going to be an inspiration and motivation in my life."

Gasol underwent surgery in 2019 to repair a stress fracture in his left foot. The two-time NBA champion told Medina that pushing himself through the rehab was a struggle at first, but he would often think of how Bryant would've handled the situation.

"He really pushed himself to the limit," Gasol said. "He pushed through a lot of injuries and a lot of pain and discomfort. He was relentless and very disciplined on his rehab and his recovery. During my recovery, I always had him present."

This marks the fifth Olympic appearance for Gasol, whose younger brother Marc is also competing for Spain in Tokyo. The elder Gasol brother won silver medals at the 2008 and 2012 Games and bronze at the 2016 Games.

Pau Gasol explains how Kobe inspired him to play in Tokyo Olympics
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