Argentina has had its fair share of sport legends, but it’s safe to say there is a pantheon reserved for only the best of the best, the ones who managed to transcend their sport and place the country on the global stage. And unless there’s something truly wrong with you, you have to put Manu Ginobili‘s name in that group. During his lustrous career, Bahía Blanca’s prodigal son was synonymous with winning everywhere he went: from his days in the Euro League to his glorious time with the national team, all the way to his triumphant road through the NBA.
And this Thursday, he will be bestowed with one of the greatest honors in his craft when the San Antonio Spurs retire his jersey number 20, so that no other player will ever wear it. Manu, as you might expect, is quite emotional this week, to put in mildly.
??Anoche fuimos a ver a @Pink al AT&T Center y lloré!! Parece que mi estado emocional para esta semana es delicado. ?♂️
??We went to the @Pink concert last night and I cried. I guess it's gonna be an emotional week! ?♂️
— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) March 22, 2019
Manu’s list of accomplishments is too long to list here, but it includes four NBA championships and the legendary gold medal for Argentina at the 2004 Athens Olympics, considered one of the greatest sports feats ever, probably second only to the 1986 World Cup (I might be going a bit overboard with this one but, like Manu, this is making emotional, so suck it).
His influence on basketball cannot be measured by these type of accomplishments, however. Ginobili was transformed into the poster boy for international players to reach the NBA and his wild, lawless style of play became a blueprint for countless players since and, in his path, became a sort of folk hero for the San Antonio Spurs. Manu has grown to represent the city’s embrace of the Latinx community with which it holds deep historic ties with. He is well known for his humanitarian work and is loved as much for his action on the court as for his work off of it.
Thursday night’s ceremony will see a parade of characters from Manu’s life, including his wife Marianela, his sons (Dante, Nicola, and Luca), his parents (Yuyo and Raquel), his brothers (Leandro and Sebastián), teammates from the golden generation of Argentine basketball (Fabricio Oberto, Juan Ignacio Sánchez, Pablo Prigioni, and Luis Scola) and many others.
To top it all of there will probably be one of those low-blow, tearjerker tribute videos that will make everybody cry their eyeballs out and, hopefully, make a complete weeping mess out of Manu himself. We leave you with one of the defining moments of Manu’s career: his sprawling, “What the hell can’t this guy do” shot to beat Serbia in the group phase of the Olympic Games in Athens 2004. Vamos Manu!