When I describe Pau Gasol to non-NBA fans, I tell them that he is not a typical NBA player, but he was a perfect Spur. As a child, he wanted to be a doctor, but, tragically, ended up being 7’-0” tall and athletically gifted. He posts pictures of the books that he is reading on his Instagram, frequents the opera, and is active with the local children’s hospital. His preferred social media hashtag is, “#AlwaysLearning,” and his reputation as a consummate teammate and athlete on the basketball court has reflected the influence of his diverse interests.
The body of work that Pau Gasol has assembled in the first seventeen years of his career is Hall of Fame-worthy. He has won two NBA Championships and three Olympic medals. His numerous player accolades include Rookie of the Year and six All-Star appearances. Yet, despite his success, Pau is moving to his third team in five years. Why has a player with all of the markings of a franchise pillar become so nomadic? What hole remains vacant in the most remote realm of Pau’s big heart?
I searched for answers in all of the places that I thought Pau himself would look. I read every book that Pau listed on his Instagram. My Spanish was much improved, but my clarity was no better. Pau, what are you looking for? What are ya—? Areya . . . ARIA! The answer was there all along, in the opera!
And so, I present to you, in the original translation: Pau’s Swan Song (Opus 1, Movement 4).
Don’t elude me, my love
For I tremble in your wake
I see you through your ball fake
And follow you to the ends of the Earth
Past every bear, bull, and lake.
I thought the ending of our path
Would be shrouded in silver and black
But that is not to be
Because I want more time for you and me
I’ve been told
The ball don’t lie
So now it is my time to fly
Don Quixote step aside
Baloncesto, you are my wild buck
You tempt me
You torment me
But I follow