The Council of Ministers of the Spanish coalition government decided Tuesday to give the Grand Cross of Sports Merit to former basketball player Pau Gasol, who recently ended his professional career.
Government spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said Gasol was deemed worthy of the country’s top sporting award because "he waved the Spanish flag all over the world” and for “his human warmth and participation in social events throughout his excellent career full of extraordinary achievements."
Gasol, 41, one of the most important names in Spanish basketball, announced Oct. 5 that he ended his sports career which lasted 21 seasons with 18 in the NBA.
He bagged three league titles and one Spanish King's Cup in Barcelona, the team where he started and ended his career.
Gasol also won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and he was an NBA All-Star six times.
Meanwhile, he helped Spain win the 2006 World Cup.
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Gasol won three European Championships (EuroBasket) with the Spanish national team in 2009, 2011, and 2015 and two Olympic silver medals in the 2008 and 2012 Games.