The fingers of one hand reach and are left over to count the presence of Argentine basketball players in the NBA All Star Game. While the historical Andres Nocioni Y Luis Scola were part of the Rising Star Challenge, an exhibition made up of rookies (rookies) and second-year players (sophomores) in the run-up to the big game on Sunday, the only albiceleste who left his signature among the greatest figures was Emanuel Ginobili.
Since 2002 defending the colors of San Antonio Spurs, Manu did not participate in the rookie team during his first season in the most important league in the world, but he did so in the next as a member of the Sophomores.
It was a 142-118 victory for the Bahian team, who added four points, eight assists, three rebounds, a steal in 21 minutes and welcomed promising youngsters like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
By 2005, the shooting guard sported two league rings and was an important pillar in Gregg Popovich’s structure. Their productions were increasing day after day and that is why he earned the trust of the coaches, who chose him as one of the alternates for the West cast.
That night, Ginobili shared the lineup with none other than Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and several big-name stars. With his income from the bank he marked eight points, grabbed three rebounds, distributed an assist, stole a ball and made a cover in 21 minutes on the court.
However, his display of talent was not enough: Allen Iverson was proclaimed MVP of the match and led the 125-115 triumph of the East along with Vince Carter and LeBron James. Beyond the setback, it was a historical fact for having been the first Argentine to play the All Star Game.
The years flew by, the legs began to weigh but the fire remained. In 2011, at 33 years old, Manu accumulated three titles in San Antonio and continued to show his class in San Antonio, where he played 79 of the 80 duels in total and he averaged 17.4 points (his second highest figure of his long career), 3.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.3 minutes per game.
There were many who wanted to see him again in another emblematic appointment. Among them were several NBA coaches, who again trusted him and included him in the roster that represented the Western Conference, along with Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and a long list of other categories.
At that event held in Los Angeles, the albiceleste idol was dispatched with seven points, five assists, three rebounds and three recoveries in almost 21 minutes. His team beat the East by 148 to 143 and the MVP was Black mamba, who lifted the trophy for the fourth and last time in his career.
The campaign for Ginobili to play his third All Star Game
Going into the first days of 2018, the goal of the fans and the Texas franchise was clear: that Manu, a few months after turning 41, returned to contest the event. Knowing that the public vote is equivalent to 50% of the election and the rest is shared between the players themselves (25%) and a group of journalists (25%), Campaigns were carried out in the United States and Argentina with the characteristic hashtag: “#NBAVote Manu Ginobili”.
“There are people who are asking me to participate in the All Star Game. It seems crazy to me”, had expressed the No. 20 of the Spurs, who finally, beyond the effort and the desire of the public, was left out of what could have been his third All Star Game. Although his successful career did not need any other laurel.