Emanuel “Manu” David Ginóbili was born in Bahía Blanca, Argentina on July 28, 1977. Coming from a basketball family, with Manu’s brothers both playing professionally in Argentina and their dad coaching at a club in the city, Ginóbili was destined to discover his passion for basketball at some point. Idolizing Michael Jordan growing up and having the luxury of his dad’s basketball facilities at his disposal, Manu’s obsession and love for the game grew rapidly.
Ginóbili made his professional debut suiting up for the Andio Sport Club of La Rioja in the Argentine Basketball League in 1995. He was traded that same season to his hometown team, Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca, and played there through 1998.
Determined to enhance his game further, Ginóbili moved to Europe and played for the Italian team, Basket Viola Reggio Calabria, remaining overseas for two more seasons before declaring for the 1999 NBA Draft.
Relatively unknown to the US, the San Antonio Spurs selected Ginóbili with the 57th overall pick. Manu ended up staying in Italy to play for Kinder Bologna and helped lead the team to the 2001 Italian League Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Italian Cups, and the 2001 Euroleague where he was named Finals MVP—and won back to back Italian League MVPs from 2000 to 02—and was made an Italian League All-Star three times. Oh, and let’s not forget, Ginóbili also led the Argentine National Team to a second-place finish at the 2002 FIBA World Championship and was named to the All-Tournament Team…but don’t worry, the best had yet to come for Mister Manu.
Alas, every good story requires a rocky rising action.
Ginóbili joined the Spurs for the 2002-03 season and spent it mostly on the bench behind veteran guard Steve Smith. Not only unproven, Manu also battled early-season injuries and struggled to adapt to the NBA’s rougher style of play. As he grew more comfortable, his performance on the court blossomed.
Manu emerged as a valuable contributor on a talented roster and was named to the All-Rookie Second Team at the end of the season. He only started in five total games throughout the regular season but Manu rose to prominence with the added pressure of the playoffs. Manu was essential in their postseason run as the Spurs went on to defeat the Brooklyn Nets in the 2001 NBA Finals earning their second championship and Manu’s first NBA ring.
Ginóbili was featured more substantially the following season, though still started only about half of the Spurs regular-season contests. In the playoffs, the Spurs lost to the Lakers in a series heavily swung by Derek Fisher’s infamous 0.4 walk-off jumper in Game 6.
But remember, every pit has a light shining down upon it – you just have to start climbing.
Perhaps Manu’s greatest achievement came at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics Games, where Ginóbili led Argentina to a Gold Medal—not only winning the opening game against Serbia and Montenegro on a fading jumper with 0.7 left—but even more impressive, defeating a United States team that featured Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and fellow Spur Tim Duncan. He led his team with 19.3 PPG and 3.3 APG and Argentina became the first team other than the US to win the gold medal in 16 years.
The following season Ginobili started in every game for the Spurs. They went on to reach the Finals once again and Manu’s clutch play was pivotal throughout their postseason run—ending in an epic, 7-game, defensive-minded, physical Finals series that saw the Spurs win their third championship, this time over the Detroit Pistons.
Manu was relegated to the bench for nearly all of the rest of his career and continued to be a vital member of the organization, teaming with point guard Tony Parker and power forward Tim Duncan—as one of “The Big Three”—who ranks first in all-time games won by any NBA trio in history with 575.
Manu Ginóbili finished his career with an NBA Sixth-Man award (2008), two NBA All-Star selections (2005, 2011), and four NBA Finals Championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). He is the only non-US-born player to ever win a Euroleague Championship, Olympic Gold medal, and an NBA Championship – with the only other player to ever win all three being Missouri native Bill Bradley in the 1960s.
Known for popularizing the eurostep and being one of the most unorthodox left-handers to ever play, Manu is considered one of the best international talents to ever grace the NBA and is hailed as a hero in his homeland of Argentina. He is also one of the clutchest players in history.
The 6’6 Argentine did just about everything one could set out to accomplish in a professional basketball career that lasted 23 impassioned years. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich described Ginóbili as the most competitive player he’d ever been around and often compared Manu’s determination to win to that of Kobe and Jordan. A career not only highlighted by winning, but also toughness and selflessness, Manu played through many brutal injuries, but always bounced back and remained dedicated to the organization that brought him to the NBA.
Manu even rescued all of the AT&T Center from a live bat flying around the arena by swiping it out of thin air right onto the court. Seriously. Unreal.
Largely considered the greatest sixth man of all-time, Manu Ginobili was never about the cameras or the glory or the zillions. He retired as quietly as he arrived, opting to spend the rest of his life surrounded by his wife and their three boys.
He came to win. He made damn sure he did. And he left a champion. An all-time legend.
Audioslave was a rock band formed in 2001 in Glendale, California. Formed from Soundgarden’s lead singer Chris Cornell and Rage Against The Machine members Tom Morello (lead guitar), Tim Commerford (bass), and Brad Wilk (drums), the supergroup’s initial sound was described as a fusion of their previous bands. It became clear quickly, however, that Audioslave had their own identity and style.
In 2000, after lead singer Zack de la Rocha announced he was leaving Rage Against The Machine, the remaining members decided to search for a new singer. Music producer Rick Rubin suggested Chris Cornell. The quartet’s chemistry was immediate and they ended up writing 21 songs in 19 days of rehearsal. Powered by Cornell’s nearly four-octave vocal range and Tom Morello’s impressively spazzed guitar solos, Audioslave was an instant success. Their highest-selling album was their self-titled debut in 2002, reaching over three million copies sold in the US alone.
In 2005, Audioslave played a free show in Havana, Cuba becoming the first American rock group to play an open-air concert in the socialist republic of Cuba. The band played a 26-song-set—their longest ever—to a crowd of 50,000 people. Morello and company noted they were not there for political statements with Cornell adding, “Hopefully, this concert will help to open the musical borders between our two countries.”
Audioslave sold over 8 million records worldwide and secured three Grammy nominations in their six years together. Hits of the band include “Like A Stone”, “I Am the Highway”, “Cochise”, and “Be Yourself”. After releasing three full-length albums Audioslave officially disbanded in 2007, citing conflict within the group and creative differences as the cause.
Chris Cornell and Tom Morello remained great friends and even were able to reunite Audioslave one last time in early 2017 for Prophets of Rage’s Anti-Inaugural Ball, this time protesting Donald Trump’s inauguration. A month later Cornell expressed interest in a full-on reunion with the group, acknowledging that it would be difficult with everybody’s busy schedule. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as Cornell was found deceased in his Detroit hotel room just three months later.
Audioslave remains one of the best rock bands of the new millennium and despite their proven success as members of two other iconic bands, represent a beautiful triumph of combining elite talent with high-profile stardom and a universal message: Injustice Will Never Be Tolerated.
Mashing Audioslave’s electrifying, high-powered, deeply-introspective jams with the unorthodox, emphatic, clutch style of play embodied by Manu Ginobili is truly inspirational to watch and I hope you have gained some well-deserved appreciation for both of these legends.
I appreciate you! Never forget – you can do anything your heart desires. See ya next week and, as always, stay Strong!