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Pau Gasol is leading the Bulls... To the opera

There may be no one in the NBA, ore even professional sports as a whole, more cultured than Bulls center Pau Gasol. Now, it seems, some of that worldly culture is rubbing off on his teammates.

Gasol is well known throughout the city for his love of all kinds of arts. Earlier in the season he invited his friend and legendary member of The Three Tenors, Placido Domingo, to a Bulls game. In fact, one of the reasons he came to the Bulls in free agency was because of the art scene in Chicago.

In his second season with the Bulls, some of that culture is spreading through the locker room. According to a new piece from the Wall Street Journal, Nikola Mirotic was the first to take part.

Gasol had tried and mostly failed to sell other players on the opera. Mirotic was the rare teammate who took his advice. “Don’t go with a preconceived idea,” Gasol said. “Just sit down and enjoy the experience. Let it flow. Embrace it and see if you like it.”

Then something unexpected happened: Mirotic loved it.

While Mirotic isn’t at Gasol’s level quite yet, he is making strides. He and his wife are already becoming regulars at shows throughout the city. Gasol, however, is still leading the way. He is so well known for his love of the opera, Lyric Opera House actually sent him a recording of one of the few performances he missed.

Related: Pau Gasol shows off his fashion sense for coming feature story

Gasol is truly dedicated to his enjoyment of the arts. His Instagram is littered with pictures of his trips back stage after a show, on both Chicago’s biggest theatres and small. He even visits museums on his spare time during road trips.

It’s not just the two Europeans that are interested in the city’s art scene. According to the report, rookie forward Bobby Portis is starting to express a desire to join Gasol.

As detailed in his cover story in Splash, Gasol’s interests in the opera, food and philanthropy run deep. Bulls fans just hope he can also lead a deep run into the playofs.