AT&T Center – Saturday the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced 13 honorees for the Class of 2022, and among the 13 honorees was San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili.
On the day of the official announcement, the Spurs held a press conference with Ginobili in the building where he helped raise multiple championship banners – the AT&T Center.
“The conversation was special,” said Ginobili about getting the call that he was going to enter the Hall of Fame. “It’s something you don’t expect.”
Ginobili answered a number of wide ranging questions from reporters about his career not only with the Spurs, but in FIBA basketball as well, where he helped Argentina win the Olympic Gold Medal.
“For us to have the opportunity to grab Gold, you can’t compare it,” recalled Ginobili of the feeling of winning the 2004 Gold Medal.
Ginobili says he tries to stay away from comparing his success with Argentina and his success in San Antonio. He says his time spent with both teams is unique in its own way.
“Both things were incredible,” said Ginobili of winning a Gold Medal and winning four championships during his time in San Antonio.
When asked if any of the four titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) with the Spurs were special to him, Ginobili said first 2014, then 2005.
“I was very hurt, I was devastated,” said Ginobili of losing in 2013 to the Miami Heat on a corner three from Ray Allen in the famous Game 6 during the Finals that went seven games. He said for the team to come back in 2014 with most of the same group and win the title, it was special to him.
“Not only was it joyful, it was therapeutic. It alleviated those aches,” said Ginobili of capturing the 2014 championship.
Regarding the 2005 championship, Ginobili said that one was special as well because it went down to the wire against the Pistons and he felt he could now compete at the highest level of the NBA at that point.
“Detroit was a tough opponent, we went to Game 7,” said Ginobili.
Ginobili said he never would have predicted he’d play all 16 years of his NBA career in San Antonio and end up remaining here with his family.
The reasoning? Most second round picks don’t usually have long NBA careers.
“I wasn’t the number one pick, I was 57th,” said Ginobili of when he first arrived in San Antonio not knowing how long he’d be able to stay in the city because the path for a second round pick is difficult.
Just before Ginobili wrapped up his interview, I wanted to ask him about one of his most iconic moves on the court that now seems so normal in the NBA today – the Eurostep.
I asked Ginobili what he thought about how he popularized the Eurostep and how now a lot of players have added it to their move list.
“I never saw that I created anything, I brought anything new,” said Ginobili of the Eurostep. “I just played the only way I thought possible. I was not going to go over Shaq and dunk, I had to go around people.”
“That’s the way my skillset and physical abilities found to get to the rim,” continued Ginobili on the Eurostep. “I’ve done it since I can’t remember and I remember I think it was Steve Kerr the first one talking about it, how weird it looked and he said I looked like a squirrel crossing the street.”
“Getting to the rim, I started to realize I was doing something different. For me it was completely natural and I never thought I had anything different, but I guess I helped to popularize, make it a more normal type of move.”
Ginobili said over the years other players have asked him to teach them the move, but he says it’s really not a move you can teach because it’s more of a natural move to try to get around a defender in real time.
Ginobili will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during September 9-10 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ginobili is a two-time NBA All-Star and four-time champion with the Spurs. He also won the 2008 Sixth Man of the Year Award and he was a two-time All-NBA third team member.
Along with his 2004 Gold Medal, Ginobili also won a Bronze Medal in 2008 with Argentina. Prior to his NBA career, Ginobili won a EuroLeague title in 2001.