It is 20 years on the day that Manu Ginobili was selected in the NBA draft
"It's a good pick on this point", one of the commentators on American television says. A few seconds before, in the second-last election, number 57 in the NBA Draft 1999, the man in charge of making the message seemed to have seemed to say "Manuel" and he had errors in the surname accent.
When Manu Ginóbili was chosen by San Antonio Spurs, the best Argentinian basketball player in history It was more than 5,000 kilometers away, across the Atlantic. Furthermore, when the event was developed MCI Center -When named Capital One Arena, The Washington Wizards home in the NBA player slept peacefully.
Twenty years ago, the news reached Ginobili more than 10 hours later. What did a young Manu do at that time? Before playing the tournament in America in San Juan de Puerto, which was also announced as a pre-Olympic for Sydney 2000, the Argentine team led by Julio Lamas was installed in the city of Macapá, Brazil.
Very close to the Amazon, which has to make three aircraft stops to reach Amapa's capital, the team traveled to play two friendly matches with the local team, which a few weeks ago had won the South American baskets played in Bahía Blanca. Beside them was the only journalist who covered the meetings Julián Mozo, representing Olé newspaper.
"On the day of the NBA draft, in the afternoon, with the information Manu could have a remote chance of being elected, I asked him," You have some information, some follow-up, "Mozo says. Infobae. Manu, who is still traveling his young 21 years, responded quickly and without a doubt: "Noa, not crazy, who will pick me in the draft".
then, Was it true that Ginobili had no idea of San Antonio, in the hands of R.C. Buford, president of the Spurs in those times, had followed him? "He knew he had very few chances, why the election didn't come in. He went and didn't even think about it," added the journalist who included five NBA finals, including Michael Jordan's last Bulls title.
Same as Manu did the journalist. But, unlike what happened to the player, Mozo was awakened at dawn. "At 1.30 o'clock in the morning, Marcelo Nogueira, the newspaper's editor-in-chief and one of the editorial secretaries, told the news about Manus's election," he said. Having slept a few hours, Mozo opened early with just one goal: to be responsible for giving him the news, perhaps the most important of his life to Ginobili until that moment.
"At 7.30 am I stood up to tell him that San Antonio had chosen him. There was no chance someone told him, when cell phones were getting and over the signal in Macapá was not that good"he told me Infobae one of the journalists who followed Ginobil's career since its inception and reflected his story in Talents Lord, the book that presents a prologue by Lionel Messi.
When Julián Mozo arrived at the hotel where the national team was concentrated, he asked to communicate with Ginobili's room. The result? "At the reception they had orders not to wake the players up to 9. At the only room that the concierge let me call was the one who was leading"he explained. "That was what I did: I called him" Cacho "López and said he would tell Manu that he had been elected," he added.
What the NBA world had known for hours Ginobili discovered before going down to the hotel dining room for breakfast with the rest of his teammates from the Argentine team. He had been chosen to play in the most important league in the world.
Manu was incredible. The bomb had stumbled between his most intimate fibers and he needed to confirm if it was true. 20 years ago there was already the internet, but it was not the information revolution that it is today, That's why he saw him in the hotel lobby, he had no reason to ask him. "He came to me and asked me if it was true. "It's a fan, no," he told several times ", remember Julian.
Finally, it was not a joke. After that meeting, they agreed to make an interview where Ginobili reported that it happened to him when he realized that he had been elected by the recent NBA champion. "All my life, my family, my career, when I played mini in Bahia del Norte … I still did not know what it means and the retroactivity it will surely have", Manu told Mozo hand in hand for the newspaper.
Only four years after debuting with Andino de La Rioja in the National League, the young man who became one of the most important athletes in Argentine history had reached the NBA. Almost without understanding it, without imagining it.
"Although Pepe (Sanchez) had told me that what was said was not that interesting, I visited all the sites where there were draft lists. And it wasn't in anyone. Also, as my representative did not communicate recently, I had no illusions"he told Mozo two decades ago in the conversation they had in Macapá.
A few weeks later, Ginobili traveled to Puerto Rico with the one chosen to play the Championship FIBA Americas. With one team full of young faces, among them Luis Scola, Andrés Nocioni, and other more experienced ones Hugo Sconochini, Juan Espil or Alejandro Montecchia, Argentina stopped at the gate of the Olympic classification: ended in third place, having overcome in the bronze game for the local team.
Then he returned to Italy to continue his journey in Reggio Calabria, which has already been promoted to the Italian basketball department. He then moved to Bologna to make history at Virtus, where he lifted the Euroleague title and was voted the best player in the competition. When he stopped playing the 2002 World Cup in Indianapolis, USA, with Argentina, he finally moved to San Antonio. The rest of the movie is history …