“Thanks, Dirk.” Manu Ginobili takes a ball with his left hand while with his right he controls that the roast does not pass. Help Zach Lavine seal a fantasy alley oop in front of the iconic Hoop Bus on NBA Lane.
It is 75 years of the NBA and there, in the constellation of the brightest stars, is the Argentine guard sharing the neighborhood. It is one of the most complete galaxy in the sport of baskets. Nobody is surprised, nobody is disturbed, nobody doubts that it belongs to that place.
.@manuginobili enjoying the NBA Lane neighborhood!
– NBA (@NBA) October 15, 2021
Now Ginobili walks through an imaginary corridor while holding a cup of Looney Tunes. The very close-up focuses on what is decisive: four shiny, glittering, iconic NBA rings hug the handle to unmask the inevitable: surprise, excitement, and respect in the eyes of Bugs Bunny and company. The best Latin American player of all time appears sympathetic, says his lines, and provokes a smile. The impact immediately gives rise to respect. It is not one more. It seems logical that something like this happens, a preset script with winks that we all understand. The usual line connecting the dots to understand without too many words.
But it is not normal, nor logical, nor frequent. It doesn’t even seem real. For those of us who grew up in the NBA in the 90s, seeing Manu in such a place is dreamlike, surreal, unthinkable.
We Argentines live, hand in hand with Ginobili, 15 wonderful years. Manu being decisive as soon as the match is put in front. In regular series and in the playoffs. Hugging Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker with the Larry O’Brien trophy at their feet. Not one, not two, not three. Four times. Ginobili with his teammates from the Argentine National Team reinventing FIBA basketball in Athens 2004 after winning Olympic gold after beating the American Dream Team twice. In silence, without excessive fanfare, he built iconic moments and changed the map of basketball in Argentina: thanks to him, San Antonio became a must-see destination for lovers of piques and nets.
The list of the best 75 players in the history of the NBA was another topic that put things in situation. For some, Manu must have belonged. Not for others. Anyway, one thing was clear: no one thought it unreasonable that he is one of the names in dispute to be part of that select group. We repeat: we are talking about the best 75 in history, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, LeBron James and Bill Russell. Is their magnitude understood?
Perhaps that is why, night after night, we find ourselves orphaned by this feeling of being luxury guests at the black tie party. Wandering from the limelight, it is hard to understand that there is no longer a place for the elite tables, and no matter how hard you try to force something by shouting, pushing, this time we are on the list of those who can enter after twelve. And that this is also very valuable, because to this party, dear friends, not everyone enters. In short, things are often not how we want them to be but how they are: oversizing in times of social media has become an everyday custom.
You have to try to put things in the right place. It costs because fanaticism is also, why not, a form of disguised love. And excessive love for something is blind and confusing. Facundo Campazzo is a great player, a talent with a galloping heart, but he is still going through his second year in the NBA and it is as wrong to make ruthless criticism as it is inordinate praise. The evolution will be game by game and the advice is to avoid the roller coaster of doctrinaire. Dodging the darts of absolute truths is the goal for those who come to measure their performances.
Leandro Bolmaro is a high-quality project that has to go very little by little, it still needs a training ahead that is only granted by flight hours. In training first and in games later. And the Gabriel Deck thing is painful and incomprehensible: Who can think of taking one of the stars of Real Madrid to heat up the bench in a team of young people that is destined to navigate the waters of the NBA’s irrelevance? Whoever thought about tanking, I remind you that OKC recently played four games – of course, they lost them all – in regular series. This decision would be even more incongruous.
In short, Ginobili has accustomed us Argentines to cut tickets from a non-existent world for the majority. We knew how to inflate our chests in any basketball discussion that arises and have compelling reasons to be right. Thinking that that was the logical thing to do is the recurring error, because reality supported by casuistry dictates otherwise. That scenario no longer exists: not everyone enters the banquets, only the chosen ones, and that boy from Bahiense del Norte did. And with him as a partner, we were all able to go behind.
How to continue then? To take the step forward, the first thing is to understand. Perhaps it requires for many a bath of humility that forces to eradicate the crazy expectations. Only then can you start watching the full movie. Little by little, inch by inch, evolve in a logical and orderly way. Reach the expected limits and then break them and rewrite scripts.
To achieve extraordinary results, to be surprised again, you have to understand the starting point. That measure is the beginning of the road.
Beyond the euphoria, our representatives deserve that time.
It is up to each of his followers to accept it.