Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol shared one of the closer teammate brotherhoods in recent NBA history, and now Bryant is calling for the two to be reunited once again, this time in the Staples Center rafters.

Bryant, whose short film “Dear Basketball” is up for Best Animated Short at this year’s Academy Awards, spoke with Spanish journalist Antonio Martin Guirado at the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on Monday. When asked about his former teammate Gasol, Bryant was adamant that the Los Angeles Lakers retire the No. 16 jersey of the Spaniard.

“There’s no debate,” said the shooting guard great. “Pau, when he retires, he will have his number in the rafters next to mine. The reality is I don’t win those championships without Pau. The city of LA doesn’t have those two championships without Pau Gasol.

“We know that, everybody knows that,” Bryant added. “And I’ll really look forward to the day where he’s there giving his speech at center court in front of all of the fans who have supported him over the years. It’s gonna be an awesome night.”

The debate probably goes both ways — Gasol was only with the Lakers for a little over six years and was always a clear second fiddle to Bryant. But as Mr. Mamba hinted at, Gasol was an irreplaceable part of the team’s back-to-back championship wins in 2009 and 2010. He also made three All-Star teams and garnered three All-NBA selections as a Laker.

As for Bryant, who just got his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys retired by the purple-and-gold in December, he has always gone to bat for Gasol (even if it means throwing people under the bus to do so). Thus, it’s no surprise that he is calling for the Lakers to do right by perhaps his most beloved teammate.

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This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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