On the retirement of Fabricio Oberto

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Fabricio Oberto has retired from the NBA due to a recurring heart condition. 48MoH regulars Tim Varner and Jesse Blanchard wish Oberto well with a brief assessment of his game. We welcome our readers to share your assessment of Fabricio Oberto–even if you simply want to poke fun at the ridiculous rubber band he liked to wear in his hair–in the comment thread below.

*****

I once complimented DeJuan Blair by comparing him to Fabricio Oberto.

Strangely enough, Blair reminds me of Fabricio Oberto in his uncanny ability to move into empty space around the hoop and dutifully present himself to the passer. This helps explain why Blair and Ginobili play so well together. DeJuan is practically Argentinean.

Fabricio Oberto is a departed, but still beloved Spur. A master craftsman without the basketball, Oberto was a cat burglar around the hoop, sneaking in and out of unoccupied space like a thief with a nose for diamonds. Whether the Spurs needed a solid screen, intuitive dive to the hoop, a sneaky-smart flash through the lane, or body to draw a charge, Oberto possessed the intelligence and will to accomplish all the beautiful game changing stuff that doesn’t show up in a box score.

And he was a winner. Manu Ginobili was quick, via Twitter, to send off his dear friend by reminding us that Oberto won at every stop.

Besides being a g8 teammate, he won Arg League, SouthAm League, King’s Cup, ACB, ULEB Cup, Olympic Gold and NBA. Not a bad resume.

I guess it’s a token to a guy’s value when an NBA championship is only one of seven professional championships won.

Tim Varner

*****

Like many basketball fans between the ages of 18 and 30, I’ve logged more than a few hours taking my favorite team through multiple seasons on the joysticks. In terms of video games, being a San Antonio Spurs fan has not always been easy.

None of its big three are the extreme athletes or shooters that translate so well to the digital courts and the role players have always been one-dimensional. After all, intangibles and intelligence rarely matter in a game where attributes are rated and numbered. And at the heart of everything wrong with the digital Spurs was Fabricio Oberto.

If you were to create your own basketball player, Oberto was the last thing you would produce. In terms of individual skills, he had none. The jumper was unreliable, he wasn’t very athletic, or even very big. He was a solid help defender who often found himself over matched physically.

But Oberto was about more than what you could quantify in ratings. He simply knew how to play. Basketball has not always translated to this medium as well as football or baseball, because basketball is a free flowing game at heart. Oberto understood this in a way that few other players could. After all, he made a small but successful career out of only two NBA caliber skills sets: being tall and knowing how to play.

In each of the Spurs championships they’ve possessed a chaotic big man. Someone who stood outside of the system and created plays other teams could not account for. That was Fab. Whereas Malik Rose once did it with energy and athleticism, Oberto did it with an intuitive feel for where to be.

Jesse Blanchard

  • BlaseE

    Every time I see a big slap an offensive rebound out of the paint to a team mate outside the three already set to run back on D, I think of Oberto.

  • agutierrez

    Fab will go down among true Spurs fans as one of the most underrated, underappreciated Spurs of all time. Go back and watch the finals against Cleveland in ’07 and the guy just did everything right and nothing wrong. As you state, it’s all the little things that never show up in a box score. And the surprise is that after all is said and done his career line was 10.2 pts. and 7 + rebounds per game. Exactly what a team like the Spurs needed: a compliment to the best power forward and Big 3 ever. That even the Spurs FO didn’t fully appreciate his contributions to our championship in ’07 was how easy they traded him away. The Spurs should pick him up, put him on the roster for a week or two and allow him to retire a Spur. Todo lo mejor Fabricio. Te hechamos mucho de menos. Buena suerte.

  • http://www.poundingtherock.com Tim C

    Fab was the ultimate team player. I was looking forward to our games against Portland to be able to see him work his magic. Let’s all wish good luck and good health to Fab in all his future endeavors.

  • Tyler

    Between the always-greasy-hair, the tapped-back rebounds, the shimmer of the silver tooth, the fantastic high-low game he played with TD, and all the charges he drew, Fab will go down as one of the most underrated Spurs of all time.

    Just a solid guy, on and off the court.

  • Andrew

    Could we possibly see Fab in the employ of the Spurs in some capacity in the future? The biggest compliments to his career were his basketball IQ and his ability to understand the spacing of the Spurs offense and defense. As mentioned above, he always knew where to be and had outstanding court vision.

    We could do worse than have the likes of Fab schooling raw big men like Cousin and Richards, methinks.

  • Mr. International

    Best wishes to Fab. Always felt he was underappreciated. When he got picked up by the Wizards last year, I thought that was a solid move for them. Don’t know why he didn’t get more minutes.

  • Jacob

    God bless you and your family, Fab. Good luck to you in whatever you decide to do.

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  • agutierrez

    The Spurs should create an official stat for the team called a “Fabbie,” whenever a player taps a rebound out to one of his teammates for another possession. If they added those to Fab’s rebound totals, he’d have 15 a game.

  • junierizzle

    It was kinda sad when I heard about his condition. But he had a great career.

    I recall wanting the Spurs to pick him up again. I hated that he ended up with the BLAZERS. They always give the Spurs trouble and FAB would have done something to help them win.

    What did POP call him? THe best ugly pretty player. Something like that.

    Take it easy FAB.

  • http://searchingforslava.blogspot.com SearchingForSlava

    Fab knew his craft. Didn’t need set plays, didn’t want any favors. Just went out and picked it all apart. One of my all-time favorites.

  • Bryan

    I’m glad you guys had a post on Fabi. I saw the news last night, and was really saddened by it. He was the perfect player for the Spurs system, and has been missed since the day he left.

    Jesse, I’m with you on the pain of the digital Spurs. Oberto was practically worthless in video games.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ agutierrez

    I agree. From here on out, I say we refer to tip-outs as Fabbies.

    I think the AT&T center needs a Hall of Honor somewhere, featuring the un-sung heros of previous teams. Malik Rose, Oberto, Bowen, etc. would all get a little face time for their sacrifice of self for the betterment of the team.

    Adios, Oberto. Come back and visit sometime.

  • Tobias

    Now that Oberto is leaving I just want to remember that he shapened his skills in Spain in a team call TAU.Sometime later that team changed sponsors and was renamed Caja Laboral. And from that same team we just brought another young warrior called Tiago.Let’s hope that Tiago can replicate Oberto’s succesful career.
    Adios Fabricio, te has marchado, pero tu recuerdo siempre estara con nosotros.

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  • Brian in Seattle

    I remember early in a season, I think the Spurs were playing Phoenix on national TV, Oberto went 12/12 on FGs or something similarly ridiculous.

    You know how, as a fan, there are those handful of games that just stick with you? Through all the 82+ games you watch a year, you can almost recall those particular games, at least the last quarter, play for play. Well, that game happens to be one that really stuck with me.

    He was a truly gifted player, not physically, but in almost every other aspect of the game. He had a knack for on-court chemistry with almost any player he was paired with in the front court, and, as I understand it, he was a great teammate. As has already been mentioned in previous comments, I wish you the best, Fabricio. You will be missed.

  • Bushka

    Wonderful player, really the quintessential spurs role guy. Solid and instinctive with that inate ability to be in the right place at the right time.

    As Blase noted in the first comment, my fondest memories of Fab are the offensive tips to team mates out on the perimeter. Speaks volumes to his basketball IQ. Not big enough, athletic enough but always smart enough to work his craft.

  • paul

    Fab will always remain a Spur for me.. Best wishes Fab..:-)

  • New York City

    Fab was a great guy. Rather than pulling down a rebound and padding his stats, he converted a loose ball into an open shot for a teammate. He did all the dirty work without any fanfare and without asking for thanks. You don’t win championships without guys like Fab on your team. And that’s something Miami is going to learn.

    Thanks for all you’ve done for San Antonio and for the Spurs, Fab. You are a true Spur, and we the fans will remember you.

  • agutierrez

    Does anyone know the name of the wine that his winery is producing? Let’s continue to support Fab by buying his wine …. assuming it’s decent and affordable (actually, that about describes Fab).

  • http://kaktex.blogspot.com Keith Alan

    I’ll never forget the mental telepathy Fab shared with Manu.
    One quick glance and suddenly a pass was threaded through impossible spaces for a dunk or other improbable finish. Didn’t matter which one of them scored–it was always a thrill to watch.
    Highlight Reel stuff.

    In a radio interview before the game tonight, Oberto mentioned that he might go into music full-time. Haven’t heard his tunes, but if they are as good as his screens…

    Best of luck in the future, Fabricio.
    You’ll always have a place in the hearts of San Antonio Spurs fans.

  • Javier desde Nogoyá, Entre Rios, Argentina

    Fabricio fue mi gia a lo largo de mis años jugando al basket, sensacional persona, gran jugador, muy poco valorado y eso es una pena… me sentí muy mal cuando se fue de San Antonio porq penc q no iva a encontrar casa mejor que allí junto a manu y al resto de los spurs! Se retira el mejor Pivote de la historia Argentina y por su sabiduría y gran genio ¿Aparece un gran entrenador?… Eso lo veremos… te queremos fabri… mucha fueza para el futuro… cuidat por favor!!! SALUDOS…

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