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How Manu Ginobili went from unknown to the greatest 6th Man of all time

Perhaps no other player ever made more sacrifices for his team to win than Manu.

2014 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s 2023, and Manu Ginobili’s legacy is set in stone. He’s a four-time champion, Hall of Famer, and is widely considered the greatest 6th man in NBA History. However, that wasn’t the case 24 years ago when the Spurs chose him with the 58th pick of the 1999 NBA draft. Rod Thorn mispronounced his name, Tim Duncan had never heard of him, and Manu himself, who was with Team Argentina at the time, didn’t even believe his coach when he woke him up to tell him he had been drafted. ESPN even gave the Spurs a D for the selection due to the lack of scouting information in him.

When he finally arrived in San Antonio in 2002, the Spurs’ veterans gave him a hard time to test his mettle since international players had a reputation for being soft, and Pop didn’t trust his erratic and unhinged style of play, but he remained strong and steadfast as he earned his role and on the 2003 championship team.

He finally made his first All-Star appearance in his first full season as a starter on the way to the 2005 championship, but the Spurs soon realized they would be better off bringing him off the bench to ensure at least one member of the Big Three was always on the floor and to prevent his body from wearing down. Despite not being thrilled, he selflessly accepted the role and kept playing at a starter’s level to lead the Spurs to two more championships, while winning 6th Man of the Year award along the way.

The sacrifices of his decision included more pedestrian stats and less accolades than most players of his stature, but he did it for the Spurs and the rings, which clearly paid off with four championships, and he’s a Hall of Famer. The Spurs’ culture was a huge part of their winning ways, and while Duncan and Pop tend to get the most credit, Manu played just as a big of a role while sacrificing the most to help the Spurs win, making him one of the most selfless stars of all time.

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