MADRID, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Pau Gasol, the greatest Spanish basketball player of all time, confirmed on Tuesday that he is returning from the NBA to play with Barcelona where he began his career 22 years ago.
"I am very happy to announce that I am returning home and that I will soon join the ranks of FC Barcelona's basketball team," confirmed Gasol on social media.
The 40-year-old will initially play for Barcelona until the end of the current season in order to regain full fitness ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"I want to make my skills and experience available to the club at a key moment of the season as I continue to progress in my physical condition and begin to pick up the pace of competition," he added.
Gasol made his Barca debut in 1999 but moved to the NBA in 2001 after being taken third in that year's draft. In his 20 years in the NBA, Gasol won the NBA Championship in 2009 and 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers and was named six times in the All-Star team and was Rookie of the Year in 2002.
Gasol played for the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers, the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Milwaukee Bucks, but has suffered injuries in recent years.
He also enjoyed massive success with the Spanish national team, whom he led to the 2006 World Championships, Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012, and bronze in 2016, along with three gold, two silver, and two bronze Eurobasket medals.
"I am happy to return to the club where I started and I welcome this opportunity with enthusiasm and with the hope of being able to contribute to the first team soon. I want to thank Barca and the technical team that made my incorporation possible," commented Gasol.