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On July 1, 2014, after 13 years playing in the NBA, basketball star Pau Gasol was declared a free agent. Having reached the age of 34, Gasol could choose his next home court. The Los Angeles Lakers were very keen to keep him while other teams wanted him to join their ranks instead.

This junction in his career opens a case study by professor Santiago Álvarez de Mon and research assistant Juan Enrique Flores. The case explores Pau Gasol's international career drawing on numerous interviews with Pau and his family (his mother, father and brother Marc), coach Phil Jackson and many others who played key roles in the basketballer's professional development.

Laying the Foundation: Pau's Early Years
Why was he so in demand in the world's top basketball league? Pau Gasol's "emotional intelligence" was among the virtues extolled by his teams, a feature already notable in his childhood, his mother said, along with his natural ability as a basketball player.

When he was only 18, in January 1999, Pau Gasol made his debut on Barcelona's first team. Two seasons later, he made his mark as MVP (most valuable player) in Spain's top tier basketball league, the ACB. He also led Barcelona to win the ACB league finals and the Spanish National Cup (Copa del Rey). His coach at the time, Aíto García Reneses, recalled that Pau had "good mobility for his height, court savvy and mental strength. Pau's capacity for hard work was impressive."

That same summer, Pau Gasol was the NBA's third draft pick. With an initial contract offer worth $3 million a year, he could pay off the penalty stipulated in the termination clause of his Barcelona contract and join the Memphis Grizzlies, based in Memphis, Tennessee.

See also, "Pau Gasol Shares Keys to Success" [video]