Ginóbili spent the early part of his basketball career in Argentina, and Italy, where he won several individual and team honors. His stint with Italian side Kinder Bologna was particularly productive; he won two Italian League MVP awards, the Euroleague Finals MVP and the 2001 Euroleague and Triple Crown championships. Selected as the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, the shooting guard is considered one of the biggest draft steals of all time. Ginóbili joined the Spurs in 2002, and soon became a key player for the team. He has earned three NBA championship rings and was named an All-Star in 2005 and 2011. In the 2007–08 season, he was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. Ginóbili has also enjoyed success with the Argentina national team. He made his debut in 1998, and helped win the gold medal during the 2004 Olympics Basketball Tournament.
Family and personal life
Ginóbili comes from an Italian Argentine family of basketball players. His oldest brother, Leandro, retired in 2003 after seven years in the Argentine basketball league, while brother Sebastián has played in both the local league and the Spanish Liga Española de Baloncesto. Their father Jorge was a coach at a club in Bahía Blanca, where Ginóbili learned to play the game. Given the proliferation of basketball clubs in Bahía Blanca and his idolization of Michael Jordan, Ginóbili's love for basketball grew rapidly.
Ginóbili has dual citizenship with Argentina and Italy. As a result of his travels, he can speak Spanish, Italian and English fluently. In his free time, Ginóbili enjoys listening to Latin music, watching movies and relaxing with his friends. In 2004, he married Marianela Oroño. On 16 May 2010, his wife gave birth to twin boys, Dante and Nicola.
Argentine and Italian years
Ginóbili made his professional debut in the Argentine basketball league for the Andino Sport Club team of La Rioja from 1995–1996, and was traded to Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca the next year. He played with his hometown team until playing basketball in Italy attracted him, and in 1998 he moved to Europe, spending the 1998–1999 and 1999–2000 seasons with Basket Viola Reggio Calabria. In 1999, he teamed with Brent Scott, Brian Oliver and Sydney Johnson to earn promotion from the Italian 2nd Division to the Italian 1st Division. Ginóbili then entered the 1999 NBA Draft and the San Antonio Spurs selected him late in the second round with the 57th overall pick. However, he did not sign with the Spurs at this point. Instead, he returned to Italy to play for Kinder Bologna, which he helped win the 2001 Italian Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Italian Cups, and the 2001 Euroleague, where he was named the Euroleague 2000–01 Euroleague Finals MVP. He was also named the Italian League MVP in 2000–01 and 2001–02, and made the Italian league's All-Star game three times during this period.
San Antonio Spurs
It was not until after the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis that Ginóbili joined the Spurs. There, he made the All-Tournament team alongside future NBA star Yao Ming and established NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojaković, and helped lead Argentina to a second-place finish. In his first season in the NBA, Ginóbili played backup for veteran guard Steve Smith. He spent much of the early season injured, and found it hard to adjust to the NBA's style of play. As his injury improved, so did Ginóbili, winning the Western Conference Rookie of the Month in March, and being named to the All-Rookie Second Team at the end of the season. Still, he only started in five games as the Spurs chalked up a 60–22 regular season win–loss record. The Spurs then entered the playoffs eager to upend the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, and this was when Ginóbili rose to prominence.
In contrast to his regular season, Ginóbili became an integral part of Gregg Popovich's rotational set up in the playoffs, playing in every game. The Spurs eliminated Phoenix and Los Angeles and in those games his scoring threat took opponents by surprise, giving them one more thing to cope with against the now highly favored Spurs. He helped guide them past the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals and then the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, securing San Antonio's second championship. After the win, Ginóbili won his first Olimpia de Oro ("Golden Olympia") as Argentina's sportsperson of the year, and even met Argentine president Néstor Kirchner. A gym in Bahía Blanca was dedicated in Ginóbili's honor as well.
In the 2003–04 season, Ginóbili began featuring more regularly for the Spurs, starting in half of the 77 regular season games he played in. His statistics improved in all major categories, as he averaged 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. During the 2004 playoffs, the Spurs met their perennial rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Western Conference Semifinals. Following Game 5 where Derek Fisher scored a buzzer-beating jump shot, the Spurs lost Game 6 and the series 4–2. While Ginóbili did not start in a single playoff game as he did in 2003, his playoff statistics improved significantly, with 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. After some initial issues with San Antonio over his contract, Ginóbili re-signed with the Spurs and started every game during the 2004–05 season. This was his best season yet as he was selected as a reserve by NBA coaches to the 2005 Western Conference All-Star team, marking his debut in the elite mid-season showcase. During the playoffs, Ginóbili's play was pivotal to winning San Antonio's third championship. The Spurs first defeated Phoenix 4–1 in the Conference Finals, before prevailing in a very defensive oriented seven-game series against the Detroit Pistons. Ginóbili recorded career-highs in his playoff numbers, most notably 20.8 ppg and 5.8 rpg, and had the third highest point total in the entire playoffs. In the NBA Finals MVP Award voting, the shooting guard was a candidate but was edged out by teammate and captain Tim Duncan. The former finished the 2004–05 season as the second leading scorer on the team. During the season, he became only the fourth person to win consecutive Olimpias de Oro, this time sharing the award with soccer star Carlos Tévez.
The 2005–06 season was an injury-plagued one for Ginóbili, who suffered foot and ankle injuries that hindered his ability to play. He managed 65 games in the regular season, but saw a dip in major statistics as compared to the previous season. During the playoffs, he returned to form, but was unable to prevent the Spurs from being eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals.
In the 2006–07 season, the Spurs lacked energy from their reserves and Ginóbili provided it by coming off the bench for most of the second half of the season helping the Spurs attain the best record in the second half of the season. Ginóbili produced numbers closely identical to his successful 2004–05 campaign despite starting in only 36 of 75 games, his second lowest since arriving at San Antonio.The 2007 NBA Playoffs saw him help the Spurs to defeat the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, before sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers to win his third and San Antonio's fourth championship.
Ginóbili was to play an even bigger role for the Spurs the following season, reaching career high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and three-point field goal percentage. On 21 April 2008, the NBA announced that Ginóbili had won the 2008 Sixth Man Award; only a couple of weeks later, the Argentine was also named to the All-NBA Third Team. In the playoffs, the Spurs defeated the Suns 4–1 in the first round, Ginóbili was moved to the starting lineup in the second round against the New Orleans Pelicans after the Spurs lost the first two road games. San Antonio eventually prevailed in seven games, the Argentine played another strong series, leading the Spurs in points and assists per game (21.3 and 6.0 respectively). However, San Antonio lost to arch-rivals Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals in five games, and once again failed to capture back-to-back NBA championships.
The following season, Ginóbili was injured for most of the campaign, managing only 44 regular season games and missing the 2009 NBA Playoffs entirely. San Antonio qualified for the playoffs as the third seed with a 54–28 record, but with an aging supporting cast (Bowen, Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas were all in their late 30s), the Spurs were only considered fringe contenders for the championship. As it turned out, the strong play of Duncan and Tony Parker were not enough to help the Spurs avoid a 4–1 defeat by Dallas, and the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
On 31 October 2009, in a game against the Sacramento Kings, a bat descended onto the court at the AT&T Center, causing a stoppage of play. As the bat flew past, Ginóbili swatted the bat to the ground with his hand. He then carried the creature off the court, earning the applause of the crowd. On 9 April 2010, the Spurs and Ginóbili agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract extension through the 2012–13 season. During the 2011 season, Manu was named to the All-Star team. He was also named to the All-NBA third team at the end of the season. In the 2012 NBA season, the Spurs made it to the Western Conference Finals, but fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 6 games.
In 2012–13, the Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals, but lost to the defending champion Miami Heat in seven games. The Heat were led by Finals MVP LeBron James and superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Ginóbili had a sub-par performance in the Finals overall. He averaged 3.1 turnovers per game and shot 25% from behind the 3-point arc. In game 6, he had 8 turnovers and was stripped of the ball in the closing seconds. The Spurs only lost by a score of 100-103. He also had some key turnovers in the closing minutes of Game 7. Ginóbili was heavily criticized for his performance by analysts such as Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||PIR||Performance Index Rating|
|Led the league|
NBA regular season