Manu Ginobili, the original Hall of Fame: often imitated, never repeated

The individual NBA awards earned by Manu Ginobili don’t fill out the resume of a model inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but the San Antonio Spurs legend will be honored in Springfield on Saturday, after his first appearance on the ballot, Because It is atypical. There is no biography like him.

A look down the list of the best player in the NBA for the past 25 years reveals a class of peers who have praised Ginobili’s creativity, designed their craft after him and followed those steps on the path he paved from abroad.

Magic Johnson is called Ginobili.The most exciting European player I’ve ever seen. “

“The first time I played against him, I was so shocked With his competitiveness, energy and movement, Kobe Bryant once said. “It was very impressive, and he has continued his fantastic career.”

“I got a lot of my game and footwork from watching him,” James Harden said. “I Like Him. “

“For international players, sometimes it’s hard to believe in big dreams,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said in appreciation of the Argentine player. “You made us dream bigIt shows us that you can be great in this league.”

Without these testimonials from all-time playwrights, it’s virtually impossible to capture the art of a player whose work you’ve had to witness in order to start appreciating, but one stat comes close: No one in NBA history has played as much as Ginobili scored a higher winning percentage (72.1%). ).

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker also deserve credit for the bulk of those victories, but Ginobili’s sacrifice cemented the culture that maintained the San Antonio dynasty for two decades. He was already an All-Star player and champion when he embraced coach Greg Popovich’s request to carry out Spurs’ second unit attack, and from there, the 6-foot-6 left-footer elevated his game to All-NBA status and helped deliver three more titles.

No player in this game has sacrificed moreScottie Pippen said of Ginobili, who would have been a perennial All-Star and 20,000-point scorer if fewer teams had put their offenses into his hands.

As it were, his 14.043 career points ranked him 180 in league history. Ginobili averaged 13.3 points (45/37/83 shooting splits), 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 25.4 minutes over 1,057 games (349 starts). He earned two All-Star appearances, two NBA Third Team picks and won the 2008 Sixth Man of the Year award.

None of that captures what he meant for Spurs. It was The best player on the planet In Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals, swings alone 2007 Western Conference semi-finals against the Phoenix Suns and Beat LeBron James In the final of the tournament after two series. Dunk it over Chris Bush In Game Five of the 2014 Finals, the San Antonio beat the Miami Heat, and His swing series from Harden In the 2017 Western Conference semifinals at age 39, he demonstrated the breadth of his influence.

These are a handful of career highlights that propelled Parker, Ginobili and Duncan to win a 27-series playoff together — five more than Stephen Curry, Clay Thompson and Draymond Green, who fell victim to Ginobiles. Game winner In the opening game of the semi-finals of the San Antonio Conference 2013.

During Ginobili’s 16-year NBA career, the San Antonio Big Three defeated every great team of the era they faced, from Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers to LeBron Heat and the fledgling Golden State Warriors. Along the way, they prevented Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash Suns, Kevin Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Harden Rockets from establishing a stronghold in the West.

Ginobili played a role in every victory, losing only six of his 224 potential playoffs.

“He’s probably the greatest competitor we’ve ever seen here,” Spurs general manager RC Buford told ESPN’s Zach Lowe in August 2016. Final profile From his selection in the second round in 1999.

Manu Ginobili celebrates his 2005 NBA Championship, the second of his four titles with the San Antonio Spurs.  (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Manu Ginobili celebrates his 2005 NBA Championship, the second of his four titles with the San Antonio Spurs. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“He’s one of those guys who became the heart and soul of your team because of his exemplary competitiveness,” Popovic said in May 2017, shortly after 39-year-old Ginobili dropped 21 points in a 7-for-9 playoff shootout. Against Durant and Carrie, the indomitable warriors. “It really is an anomaly in this respect. Has the same foot position on your neck That Kobe and Michael [Jordan] It was, those kinds of guys. Magic and Larry [Bird]. He has the same attitude and plays with the same fire. He always had.”

There was the fire, sure, and there was the overheating engine and torque. “It looked like a squirrel crossing the street.” Steve Kerr once told Ginobili, “Go from side to side, then get down under two tires.” If squirrels possess the rhythm of musicians, the skill of magicians, the vision of sculptors and the brilliance of architects.

As Popovich orchestrated the crime, Ginobili was free within it.

“People always ask me who’s the hardest to guard. I say Kobe. That’s what people want to hear. But the truth is, maybe it was Manu,” one of his enemies in the 2000s. “He would put it back in fourth gear, have it, put it back in second gear until you hit it, and then make a crazy floater. I made my living studying offensive players. I couldn’t figure it out.”

Ginobili made Eurostep an art, befitting a player whose international career would have made him a celebrity without playing in the NBA. was a god Argentina’s golden generationleads his country to gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, silver at the 2002 Basketball World Championships, and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His 29 points in a surprise semi-final victory over the United States in 2004 was the only time he lost the states The United States Olympic Gold Medalist in the Era of Professional Participation.

Between Spurs drafting Ginobili with the second-to-last pick in 1999 – when Duncan famously said, “Emmanuel Ginobili? Who did we just pick?– And his debut with San Antonio in 2002, he was named Player of the Year in the 2002 Coppa Italia, the 2001 Euroleague Finals and the Italian Serie A in both years, and led Virtus Bologna to successive Italian Cups, the 2001 Euroleague, and the 2001 Italy Serie A title. .

So when he said who platform Following his April call to the auditorium, “I’ve never won a scoring championship, best player, even first team,” Ginobili humbled his autobiography. “I’m here because of my surroundings of the players I’ve played with, the coaches and the organization… I don’t consider it an individual achievement,” he added. “It’s just that I was in the right place at the right time.” He will also be in Springfield on Saturday.

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Ben Rohrbach Writer for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Email him to or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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