International great Manu Ginóbili to headline Hall of Fame Class of 2022

Spurs’ five-championship dynasty may be over, but they’re far from done getting their flowers. It doesn’t stop with the steward of their run, Gregg Popovich, becoming the NBA‘s all-time leader in early March.

The latest news is about one of the most unique championship props to ever grace a basketball court: Manu Ginóbili.

A gifted and skilled goalscorer for 16 years at San Antonio, it sometimes felt like Ginóbili wasn’t appreciated as he should be. Those legendary Spurs teams that managed to beat Shaq, Kobe and LeBron in so many great games never do it if they don’t have the Argentine on their side.

The folks at the Basketball Hall of Fame agree.

This is why Ginóbili is inducted in the first round.

Goose bumps. I have goosebumps

Ginóbili’s announcement follows the reveal of the entire Class of 2022, which also includes:

  • Swin Cash – four-time WNBA All-Star, two-time Olympic gold medalist
  • Tim Hardaway – five-time NBA All-Star
  • Bob Huggins – two-time NCAA Coach of the Year
  • George Karl – sixth all-time in NBA wins

With all due respect to these legends, Ginóbili is the undisputed headliner.

Now 44 and since retired, Ginóbili entered the NBA game somewhat late. He didn’t break the Lakers’ heart in a black jersey until he was 22 – more than three years after Spurs drafted him. Instead of jumping to the United States straight away, the Argentine decided to plug in somewhere else for a bit longer and play in Italy.

Oh and at the same time: his beloved Virtus Bologna won the EuroLeague in 2001 where he was crowned EuroLeague Finals MVP.

When Ginóbili finally decided to take the leap and join Tim Duncan and Popovich in 2002, it was all downhill from there. Not only was he an integral part of four league teams, he was a player of undisputed versatility:

  • Two-time All-Star
  • Two-time All-NBA Third Team
  • Sixth Man of the Year (2008)

Of course, this might not seem like the most impressive ledger at first glance. But when you remember that Ginóbili came most often off the bench for Spurs to light up other teams, you reconsider. He was a one-of-a-kind microwave scorer and the heart and soul of one of the best teams in the NBA.

Ginóbili will enter the Hall of Fame in the conversation for the best NBA international player of all time. Which, you won’t hear any argument for me. As a proud Argentinian, he helped grow the league and the game globally, and more. I would even go so far as to say that his status as an international player comes before his esteemed reputation as a cog in the Spurs machine.

Manu Ginóbili is an all-time great basketball player. It’s really heartwarming to see the powers that be giving him, of all people, the flowers he truly deserves.

About Kimberly Alley

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