Photo: Los Angeles Lakers/Twitter

No current hoops icon is more motivated to help women’s basketball attain significant growth than Pau Gasol.

For Gasol, his continuing campaign to promote women’s hoops is just an appropriate tribute to none other than his good friend – the late, great Kobe Bryant.

As he and Sue Bird have been officially introduced as the global ambassadors of the 2026 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, the Spanish hoops great remarked his beloved teammate as an inspiration for him to cultivate women in basketball.

“For different reasons. I’ve always enjoyed watching the women’s game. Sue [Bird], her teams, were unbelievable. Her commitment to our country, to our national team, to the game – I mean, it’s just something that I felt very strongly about and I felt pretty much the same,” Gasol said.

“Obviously, Kobe [Bryant] was an inspiration there, too. His impact, in his involvement with Gigi. It was something that is close to my heart. And by him, and their passing, I felt I wanted to kind of try of follow that path and get more involved because I’m having my own daughter as well. I want her to have any opportunity as my son will have.”

Upon concluding his illustrious NBA career in 2016, Bryant eventually focused his precious time on aiding the growth of his family and children – most notably Gigi.

Bryant famously brought Gigi under his wings and even mentored her daughter to become a destined basketball star. But a tragic 2020 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California took their lives alongside nine others.

For Gasol, he aims to carry the torch for women’s basketball on behalf of Gigi and his former co-star in the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 2026 Women’s World Cup in Germany would mark the second straight time Gasol will represent the grand sporting event. He already filled the special position in 2022 when Syndey hosted the tournament.

“He wanted to have Gigi the same opportunities that he had, and if we say Gigi, then it’s every girl in the world. He was part of that change, so it inspired me, touched me, opened my eyes,” Gasol said.

“It also helped me get more involved and be more proactive. Be part of the change and the growth.”