Was it four or five years ago now? I was watching the Argentinian team in the World Basketball Championships, and this particular spitfire caught my eye in an otherwise boring game. He was wiry, around 6″4 or so, had long curly hair like the European soccer stars, and was an absolute whirlwind on the court.
No one could touch him. He was jumpshooting, shooting threes, stealing the ball, running all over the place, and on one occasion on an all alone drive, he slammed the ball Jordan style, legs apart with one hand just like the Nike poster. It was astounding, and I decided to remember his name, Manu Ginobili, pronounced by the announcer as “Jeeno-beeli”.
Lo and behold, the next year he was a rookie for the 2002 Champion Spurs. He still looked like his frail frame would go flying out the court anytime one of the big forwards bump him. He flew alright, right into the All-rookie 2nd team, and lead all players in steals in the NBA Finals. Although special, he still didn’t make too many headlines, just another new non-American face amongst the influx of European players.
Still I kept my eye on him, and as if on cue, he did one of the most spectacular things I had ever seen, something I’ve been looking for on the net for the longest time. A left handed, reverse dunk. Against the Lakers. In the championships. Over Kobe.
It was so stunning that it instantly put his name in the papers, as it should be really. After that moment, everyone started to treat him like the special name that he is, and not just some frail Argentinian with an apathy towards haircuts. I wish I could find a video or picture of that. Even now as I wrote this I tried Google imaging, but no go. However, this morning as I played NBA Live, I managed to do something almost similar:
So Manu, this is for you. Although this one’s right-handed, and over Richard Hamilton instead of Kobe, and you look clean-cut, until I find that vid, it’ll do.