By: R. Behar
Manu Ginobili is regarded as a premier basketball player within all global stages. It is no wonder that his retirement, after a 23-year career filled with championships, personal prizes, and multiple acknowledgments has marked the global basketball scene. The story of the Olympic champion is regarded by many as inspirational, considering the difficulties he had to overcome as a young Argentinian. Regarded as the leader of the Argentinian team’s “golden age”, Manu represented his country in the major basketball stages, shining light upon international players in the Euro league and NBA. However, Ginobili had to overcome adversity to rise to stardom.
Born into a family of basketballers, Manu had begun playing at a very young age, tagging along with his older brothers, Leandro and Sebastian. Being from the town of Bahia Blanca, basketball surrounded him, differently from the other cities in Argentina. Various coaches that knew his family was constantly nurturing Manu’s natural talent by teaching him the basics of the game. Throughout boyhood, Manu had been short and skinny having difficulty when playing with stronger players. A fellow Argentinian point guard, Pepe Sanchez, had been Manu’s friend since childhood. Pepe had always been groomed to be an international player while Manu was never given much attention. When playing on the youth national team the difference between both players had grown. Pepe was regarded as the star of the youth national team and Manu had not made Bahia Blanca’s all-star team. However, like his brother, Manu was a late bloomer, growing ten inches in two years. Even though he had not been accustomed to his new body and was considered lanky he continued to grow stronger. With this development, Manu had grown to be able to handle opponents with great effectiveness being able to drive to the basket often. At 18 years old, Manu had then started playing professional basketball in Argentina.
The attention that he had drawn during the 1998-99 season was unprecedented, receiving an offer and then signing with the Italian club, Basket Viola Reggio Calabria. Within his first season playing in Europe, he continued to develop achieving an average of 16.9 points per game. Through his play in Italy, Manu had impressed the San Antonio Spurs General manager and coach Popovich which saw him in a 22 and younger tournament in the USA. Entering the 1999 draft the Spurs had an eye on Manu and selected him with the 57th pick. Nevertheless, the Argentinian had his sites upon being a key player in a true Euro league contender. He signed with one of Italy’s best clubs, Vistus Kinder Bologna. Within that season the guard had established his goal, winning the league MVP, the Euro league championship and finals MVP. Within the next season in 2001-02, Manu had achieved his second league MVP. Proving that he was a great and capable player. He then signed a 2.9 million-dollar deal with the Spurs, marking the start of his NBA career. Manu went on to win several NBA championships with the Spurs and become an Olympic champion in 2006. From ever since he has been considered a national hero.
The story of this originally skinny, small kid from Argentina may inspire us. The sheer perseverance and determination of Manu along the years is impressive and must be acknowledged by others. His achievements should also be regarded, however, the true essence that marks greatness is the journey and obstacles one has to overcome to reach their goal.
Argentina national team
NBA (San Antonio Spurs)
- Gold at the Athens 2004 Olympics
- Four-time NBA champion (2003, 05, 07 and 14)
- Euro league Champion (2001)
- Bronze at the Beijing 2008 Olympics
- Best sixth man (2008)
- Italian Champion (2001)
- Silver at the 2002 World Cup
- 2 times elected to the All-Star Game (2005 and 2011)
- Two-time Italian Cup champion (2001, 02)
- 2 times in the world team (2002 and 06)
- Euro league Finals MVP (2001)
- 2 times Italian championship MVP (2001 and 02)