Former Chicago Bulls star Pau Gasol receives the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award

Former Chicago Bulls star Pau Gasol was named the recipient of the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award on Sunday for his contributions to the growth of women’s basketball.

Gasol is the second winner of the award, which was created in 2021. Chris Paul was the inaugural recipient in 2022.

The award will be presented to Gasol during the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and Vanessa Bryant. The WNBA also will make a donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation on Gasol’s behalf.

“I’m so pleased that Pau has been chosen to receive this award,” Vanessa Bryant said in a statement. “Pau has done so much to promote women and girls in sports and cares deeply about spreading a message of equality, which was so important to Kobe and Gianna. We are grateful to the WNBA and Pau for continuing to honor Kobe and Gianna in this way.”

Gasol is a longtime proponent of the WNBA and published an article in The Players’ Tribune in 2018 — titled “An Open Letter About Female Coaches” — that advocated for increased respect and support for and investment in women coaching in both the WNBA and NBA after the rise of coach Becky Hammon.

In 2022 Gasol was one of two dozen investors in a $75 million capital raise to expand the WNBA. He continues to support the league as both a fan and investor.

“It is an honor to receive this distinction, which makes me especially happy because it represents two people who are and will always be in my heart,” Gasol, who played with Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers for 6½ seasons, said in a statement. “Kobe’s work, especially during his later years, to support women’s sports is an excellent example of where we must direct our efforts to ensure full equality in sports.”