They’re to the right of the banners they helped earn, the numbers of some of basketball’s most dominant big men to ever play in this league.
George Mikan’s No. 99 is two spots to the left of Wilt Chamberlain’s No. 13. One row directly below that is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s No. 33. Below that to the left is Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34.
And Tuesday, after helping the Lakers win a pair of championships, the curtain dropped on Pau Gasol’s No. 16. Fittingly, it’ll live directly on the right of Kobe Bryant’s No. 24.
As he watched the unveiling, Gasol shook his head and wiped tears from his eyes.
“To the city of LA, to Lakers nation, I love you, I love you deeply,” Gasol said from midcourt during the halftime ceremony. ”I love you forever, thank you for making me feel so special, it’s been an honor, it truly has.
The festivities surrounding the game with Memphis Grizzlies were full of emotional trips to the Lakers’ past, moments that would’ve been impossible without Gasol’s presence alongside Kobe Bryant.
The present? That rests on the player the Lakers have counted on to be next in line among their lineage of giants.
Fans chanted “MVP” as Davis walked to the free-throw line late in the fourth, one minute before he and the Lakers finished off the Memphis Grizzlies 112-103.
His tip-in basket iced the game in the final seconds, finishing off a 30-point, 22-rebound performance.
In the first quarter, Davis looked every bit the part of one of the team’s all-time greats, dominating every inch of the court in a way that made him one of the NBA’s top two-way talents.
Before he checked out with thirty seconds left in the quarter he’d already scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds, easily on his way to another double-double.
It was another moment of dominance, the kind that’s been happening more and more at a time when his team needs it most.
LeBron James remains injured and D’Angelo Russell, the natural next-in-line to pick up the slack, is still working towards a return.
Davis was forced out of the game with an inadvertent right hook from Memphis rookie David Roddy, the left side of his nose was bleeding while he went to the back to get treated.
Without him on the court, the Lakers struggled, the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies played with plenty of fight. All-Star Jaren Jackson Jr. lived in the paint and at the free-throw line and Memphis pushed ahead by as many as six.
But in the fourth as the Lakers pulled back ahead, Davis was again in the spotlight. He ran the court and scored, he sank free throws and hit jumpers. And on one play that electrified the crowd, he grabbed a rebound over Jackson, led the fastbreak and found Rui Hachimura for a basket.
Hachimura and Austin Reaves each scored 17 off the Lakers bench and Dennis Schroder added 17 and nine assists as the Lakers won for the sixth time in their last eight games.
Help could be coming soon.
Russell was upgraded to questionable Monday but ruled out before Tuesday’s game with Memphis. He underwent a full-speed pregame workout with Lakers coaches and could be on track for a return Friday against Toronto.
That could be a reason for celebration. Tuesday, though, belonged to Gasol.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.