Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Ranked number 75 in my 75 NBA greatest players of all time article https://www.djssportsshow.com/post/nba-75-greatest-players-of-all-time is former Spurs and Argentinian guard Manu Ginobili. Born Emanuel David Ginobili on July 28, 1977 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, to his mother Raquel and father Jorge Ginobili. His father was the manager for the local basketball club called ‘Bahiense del Norte while his older brothers Leandro and Sebastian played professional basketball, with Leandro playing for the Argentina basketball league, while Sebastian played for professional clubs in Spain.
Ginobili would often accompany his father and brothers to games and practice sessions where he would start watching the NBA and idolize Michael Jordan. While at Bahiense del Norte he was trained by Oscar Sanchez and Fabiam Horvath and would eventually go on to debut professionally at 18 when he played for the ‘Andino Sport Club’ in the Argentine basketball league.
After making his debut during the 1995-96 Argentine basketball league season, Ginóbili was drafted by ‘Club Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca’ for the subsequent season. In 1998, he moved to Europe to play for the Italian club ‘Viola Reggio Calabria and from there would enter the 1999 NBA draft where he was selected 57th overall by the San Antonio Spurs. However, he wouldn’t join the Spurs until three years later in 2002 for his rookie season after playing for the Italian club called ‘Virtus Segafredo Bologna where he would help lead them to the ‘Italian Basketball Cup’ (Coppa Italia), ‘Italian League Championship,’ and ‘EuroLeague championship. He would also capture the MVP in both leagues, winning the Italian one back-to-back (2001-02) and lead the Euroleague in scoring twice.
He finally joined the NBA in 2002, signing with the Spurs and was named All-Rookie Second team in 2003. Entering the 2003 playoffs he would begin seeing regular minutes for the Spurs and would help lead them to their second championship alongside Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and David Robinson. His greatest accomplishment individually though might have been leading Argentina to a gold medal over the US at the 2004 Athens Olympics in a 89-81 victory against a team that had Duncan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and others where he scored 29 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 4-of-6 from three.
That Olympic run might have led to Ginobili’s best season individual season, which might have been the 2004-05 when he played all 82 games that season and helped his team to qualify for the 2005 playoffs where he would average 20.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, eventually helping the Spurs win their third title in franchise history.
Overall, Ginobili was the Argentinian scientist who was a savant on the basketball court with his wild passes, crafty handle, and clutch shooting ability when his team most needed. He was a big part of four Spurs championship teams (2003, 05, 07, ‘14) and arguably the greatest sixth man of all-time. He was a fierce driver to the rim and helped popularize the Eurostep, which is what every player uses now, a la James Harden. He had an up-tempo, aggressive style of play that was a work of art to watch on the floor.
He would try no-look passes, which sometimes got him benched and made coach Greg Popovich pull his hair out, but he was a clutch player who never feared the big moment, who was a team player, and a cold-blooded assassin. He is one of two players(Bill Bradley) to win the EuroLeague, an Olympic Gold Medal, and an NBA Championship ring. Ginobili also was the Batman of the 2004 Argentenian gold medal team that embarrassed the USA, making them settle for just a bronze medal.
He, Duncan, and Parker formed the winningest trio in NBA history and never won less than 50 games in a season with all three of them together. Ginobili is a two-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, the Sixth Man of the Year (2008), and has his No.20 retired by the Spurs, and No.5 retired by the CABB.
He also is a EuroLeague champion and Finals MVP (2001), two-time Italian League MVP (2001,2002), and a host of other international awards. He was the brilliant Einstein Argentinian mastermind on the court due to his unmatched IQ, wizardry passing, slick handle, and fearlessness in the clutch.