MANILA, Philippines – Argentina’s Manu Ginobili entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, September 10, after a storied career highlighted with four NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal.
The San Antonio Spurs icon headlined the 2022 Hall of Fame Class also composed of fellow former NBA player Tim Hardaway Sr., former NBA coach George Karl, and former WNBA stars Lindsay Whalen and Swin Cash.
Now 45 years old, Ginobili looked back on an illustrious 16-season stint in San Antonio that saw him form a dynamic “Big Three” with fellow Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
Together, Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker led a small-market team like the Spurs to NBA championships in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.
While enjoying success in the NBA, Ginobili reached the zenith of international basketball when he and Argentina stunned the world by capturing the gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
That Olympic feat by Argentina’s “Golden Generation” stands as the only time the United States did not win gold since NBA players were allowed to compete in the Games in 1992.
“For players like me, individual accomplishments are team honors,” said Ginobili. “I’m not here because I’m super special.”
“I’m here because I was part of two of the most important teams of the 2000s – with the Spurs, winning four NBA championships, and with my Argentinian national team, winning gold in ’04.”
A star in Europe for Italian club Viola Reggio Calabria earlier in his professional career, Ginobili admitted he never imagined stepping foot in the NBA.
The Spurs went on to select the crafty guard with the 57th pick in the 1999 NBA Draft.
“I could not believe it because I thought it was a mistake. I had zero expectations,” Ginobili said.
“I had no fancy suit, no hat, no press conference, no nothing. I got no clue that it was happening. I did not even know what San Antonio was in the world.”
But when Ginobili debuted for the Spurs in 2002, he proved that he belonged, helping San Antonio claim the crown in his rookie season.
Ginobili won Sixth Man of the Year in 2008, earned a spot in the All-NBA Third Team twice, and popularized the euro step that has now become an essential move for basketball players all over the world.
By the time Ginobili retired from the NBA in 2018, he finished his career with the highest winning percentage in league history among players who played at least 1,000 games, with a staggering clip of 72.1%.
The next two players in the list are Duncan (71.9%) and Parker (71.1%).
“We had our priorities straight. We never let our egos get in the way. We knew when it was your (Parker) time, we knew when it was my time, when it was his (Duncan), which was most of the time,” Ginobili said, drawing laughs.
“We got it done. We got the job done.” – Rappler.com