Manu Ginobili On His ‘Unlikely’ Journey to a Hall of Fame Career

Manu Ginobili will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Sunday, joining teammate Tim Duncan and David Robinson as the only Hall of Famers from the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty run.

Ginobili enters the Hall of Fame after a 16-year career as a Spur, helping guide the franchise to four NBA championships while becoming one of the greatest sixth men ever. Ginobili won the Sixth Man of the Year just one time but is synonymous with being the first guy off the bench. His legacy is the fact he was willing to sacrifice being a starter and take a role with less glamour. Ginobili also earned two All-Star nods and two All-NBA selections.

Within that role, Ginobili anchored a bench unit that Gregg Popovich could rely on to hold leads. Ginobili was also frequently on the court with the closers. The most coveted spot you can have on a roster competing for titles. The Argentinian superstar was even better on the international stage. He was the go-to star when Argentina beat Team USA for the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics.

During his time on the international stage, Ginobili earned a FIBA AmeriCup MVP, a Euroleague championship and Finals MVP, was the top scorer in the Finals twice, was voted to the All-EuroLeague First team, won the Italian League championship, the Italian Cup twice and was named the Italian Cup VMP in 2002, the Italian League MVP twice, was an Italian League All-Star three times, and even won the Italian League dunk contest.

To top off his international success, Ginobili was named to the 50 Greatest EuroLeague contributors in 2008.

“It’s unreal that I’m here in this moment,” Ginobili said during the Hall of Fame press conference. “I guess (kids) don’t really expect to be in the Hall of Fame when they grow up but being from a small city in Argentina, a country that is known for its soccer teams making it all the way to the NBA, was for me at that point already an unreachable dream. And then things started to happen year by year, improvement, growth, development. And then one thing brought the other one. I get drafted just by sheer luck by one of the best franchises in sport, and we start winning.”

“And when things start to happen like that, then you start thinking, “oh Woah,” people start thinking that I may become a Hall of Famer. I said, “that’s ridiculous.” But at 45 years, a few years after retirement, here I am. So a very unlikely outcome for a kid born where I was born.”

Ginobili also recognized that his success came from his individuals but his teammates, that helped him play on some “special teams.”

“I’m not the type of player who would have gotten here regardless. I needed a great team.”

Ginobili will be presented at the Hall of Fame by Duncan.