funny interview with Leandro Ginobili, Manu's eldest brother...Thanks to urunobili for the translation
Leandro Ginobili "Manu is my weakness, but I wanted a sister"
He broadcasts his brother’s games on TV and doesn’t forgive him "I am one of the few that criticize him", says the older of the Ginobili’s. He also tells the secrets behind the idol.
Pablo Ramon email@example.com
Translated by urunobili
I don’t know why, but everybody has my phone number. I get phone calls from an FM radio in Pico Truncado to Susana Gimenez (Argentinean Talk Show star like Oprah)… and everyone wants to talk with Manu. One day I was asked, by a club to give them a screw that fell from a hoop, unbelievable. In between laughs and astonished by the place he is at right now mostly by Emanuel’s fame, Leandro Ginobili takes it easy. He left the orange (basketball) behind already but didn’t take long to find a new job. Now he comments NBA games and National Team ones for channel 7; and has the privilege of criticizing the Argentinean superstar with such a high acid tone and humor that it can only be possible in a family environment. Leandro is like Manu, but he has the advantage of more life lived and of not taking the heaviest toll of the last name.
- What did you feel the first time you commentated a game with Manu?
It was weird, because it also was in an important moment, Japan’s world cup. It was strong… and many times I "let the turtle escape", in the meaning that I wasn’t being a commentator but a fan. I think people liked that "out of the structure" kind of approach, because I comment games as if I was sharing a barbecue with friends. More so, I took advantage of certain impunity that is given to me for being Manu’s brother and I am one of the few that criticize him.
- But was that impunity given by him?
No, I gave that myself. Those actually are family codes. When the three of us get together we don’t kiss each other asses precisely. We kill each other, that one has a big nose, the other one is bald, the other fat… Manu knows me perfectly. In that sense, I am pretty acid with him when something is going wrong.
- Did he always take your comments in a good way?
No. I remember when he arrived to the NBA, I saw that everybody was touching the ball and he was stood up in a corner. Then I used to call him and say "How come you are not shooting or asking the ball?" until he got mad and told me "Listen I am in the place that I always wanted to be, leave me alone"
- How do your comments come to Manu’s attention?
Mostly by friends, he knows that when the camera is on his back I tend to say "Bochini is in" (Bochini was a famous Argentine soccer star that was bald)
- One time you said that lefty’s have an ugly shot and that Manu wasn’t an exemption…
- (he laughs) Yes, it’s true. But it is that way, the stereotype of the lefty’s shot is different, rougher, ugly.
- When you go to San Antonio do they know who you are, what you do?
They drive me crazy. When I was covering the Finals in 2007, I had to turn my credential for it not to be seen. They interviewed me for a Chinese channel, a Serbian one. In the World Cup same story, to make my life more complicated they do me the interviews in English and I get stuck. Some of that stuff is currently on Youtube and Manu downloads them and sends them as vengeance for the things I tell him and he says: "You have a roller in your mouth"
- And when you are there, what happens with the people?
Nothing because I don’t look a whole lot like Manu. Sebastian by the other hand looks like him because of the Greek side ha!. Sepo (Manu’s brother Sebastian) get looked at twice and people get confused thinking he is Manu.
- And Duncan? What’s up with him?
He is just as you see him on the court. He is a very nice guy. Very quiet, very introverted. I remember once I went with my son that then was just 3 years old, and when we came back from a game in Dallas Manu realized he had left the keys of his home at the hotel there. It was like 2 am and it was very cold. We were totally homeless. We couldn’t use the car neither get into Emanuel’s house. And then we saw that a SUV was getting close: it was Tim’s. The first thing he did was to grab my son and put him inside the vehicle for him to be warm. Today my son reminds me and say "I was inside Tim Duncan’s SUV dad!" Tim stayed there with us for a while until we got the issue solved, and we are talking about a superstar here. That night by the way we all ended up sleeping at Popovich’s house.
- When was it that you saw Manu and said "This guy is serious"?
He was playing for Estudiantes de Bahia Blanca. It was in the 96-97 season, I was playing in Roca with Sepo. And due to our positions we had to face each other one on one. And as weird as it sounds I did pretty well against him. I dominated him, it was like that. I scored a lot on him, we won. Next year I was in Comodoro and Manu and Sepo were playing for Estudiantes. Well, when we faced each other again there was no way I could catch him. The dunked it, scored from behind the arc, did whatever he wanted to. He created a mess with me or whomever who faced him. The quality jump from one year to another was impressive. In that same tournament, Estudiantes played semi finals against Atenas, that swap the series 3-0. In a moment Marcelo Milanesio (an Argentinean basketball great back then) approached to me and said: "This kid is good". Then he went to Europe and never stopped growing.
- I get the sensation that all that stuff wasn’t causality…
He has an angel. And he also has patience and knows how to adapt to the circumstances. Something that me, by example, I have never had. Never. I used to see the rim and shoot immediately. An idiot, bah, because there are so many other things on basketball you can do. He went form being the best player in Europe for two years to being a 10 minutes per game player in the NBA and never touch the ball.
- It’s because Manu broke the FIBA mold.
It is because apart from his natural talent, his sacrifice, what makes him different is his brain. He is very tough mentally.
- And you brothers have nothing to do with that? Older brothers are an incentive to younger ones to get surpassed…
I don’t want to give myself any credit, but it’s true that he grew up seeing me and Sepo play in the National League. He wanted to be there. He used to come and visit me with his eyes wide open. And when the doctor told him he wouldn’t be taller than 6 feet he almost committed suicide. He has always been extremely competitive, especially with me that we are similar in several aspects. By example, Emanuel started high school and when he got his first score card the first thing he did was to go and check on mine to see if he had beaten me on the scores.
- How was that story about his height?
A child doctor told him he wasn’t going to be tall, and he was really sick with that aspect and got depressed. Sports make you a little taller but my dad is 6 feet. We didn’t know what to do to make him feel better. My dad always used to measure us on the kitchen’s wall with little marks, but Manu wanted to check himself every 15 minutes. If he was told that he had to hung with his arms a lot in a tree to grow taller he’d go and hung; if he was told to sit on hot sand naked in Monte Hermoso, he would go and do it. I think he put so much energy on it that he beat nature. Why he is 6’6 feet tall? I can’t explain…
- What did you do with your ego when you saw Manu exploded?
Nothing. I am a very egocentric person basketball wise, because all my life I have been a shooter. But not with my brother. Since I knew my mom was pregnant I was very enthusiastic about the arrival of a little sister, because I wanted a baby girl. My house was a sea of testosterone already.
- And if he was a girl?
Maybe she would have won Roland Garros (laughs). Since he was born he was my favorite toy. When it was stormy I used to take him to my bed, Manu has always been a weakness for me. Everything he does makes me really happy, I have zero envy.