Happy Birthday, Spaniard

60827750On July 6, 1980, Pau Gasol was born in Barcelona, Spain.

Thirty years later, he’s a two-time NBA champion.

The Spaniard just completed quite a year, having played a critical role in his first NBA championship a few weeks before turning 29 when L.A. beat Orlando 4-1 in the 2009 Finals, and then offering his best season as a professional and ultimately winning his second straight title with a 4-3 defeat of Boston in the 2010 Finals.

Gasol made the All-Star team for the second straight time, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team despite two bothersome hamstrings that kept him out of 17 games and likely off the First or Second team.

He averaged 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.74 blocks on 53.6 percent shooting in the regular season, as well as 19.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.09 blocks on 53.9 percent shooting in the playoffs, all the while eviscerated any remaining rumblings that he was “soft.”

In between championships, Gasol led his Spanish National Team to the 2009 FIBA European Championship, earning MVP honors along the way.

A great season, to say the least, for a player that continues to gain steam as the NBA’s best all-around big man.