Gasol, five years his senior, was also an inspiration.
"Pau is probably one of the best players in the world, so he's my reference, and I work every year to be better and better," said Fernandez.
With Portland unable to make it past the first round of the playoffs in his time there, Fernandez went to Denver in a three-way trade.
He needed surgery on his troublesome back problem but recovered in time to play at the London 2012 Olympics.
With Spain fielding the likes of the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, Juan Carlos Navarro and himself, they once again came close to upsetting the all powerful U.S. squad.
Gasol netted 24 points and Navarro 21, but the U.S. edged a thrilling gold medal match 107-100, underlining Spain's rise as a basketball power.
"We are probably the second team in the world. I remember a long time ago in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, no team could compete against the U.S. Dream Team, but now there's a little bit of respect paid by them to the other teams," Fernandez said.
He is not the only member of that team to return to Spain from the NBA.
Navarro left Memphis in 2008 after just one season, and has since been an outstanding player for Real's archrivals Barcelona.
"Right now I think Navarro dominates the Eurobasket," said Fernandez.
"He decided to come back to Spain like me and he is probably one of the best shooting guards in the world as he demonstrated in the Olympics and in the world championships."
Navarro and Pau Gasol would both be 36 at the time of the 2016 Olympics, so their participation is questionable, but Fernandez is hoping to go to his fourth Games.
While Spain dominates football, being the reigning world and European champions, its basketball team is not far behind.
With Fernandez on the roster, it has won the last two editions of the European championship and claimed the FIBA World Cup in 2006.
"I'm ready for Rio. I think we have a good team, a young team with Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and myself."
There is still the possibility that Fernandez, a passionate music fan who has dreams of becoming a DJ, will have another go at cracking the NBA -- if his body can withstand the strain.
"Who knows in two years, three years, I could back to the NBA if I start to feel better about my back."