Manu Ginobili on the state of the game in Latin America


Manu Ginobili may be the only one of the San Antonio Spurs’ Big 3 to be a native Spanish-speaker, but he feels no pressure to be the team’s star while the silver & black are in Mexico City.

“I know that I’m the one that speaks Spanish, next to Tiago, but it’s not like I have to do anything particularly different,” Ginobili said. “I know I have to talk a little more.”

The Spurs’ exhibition season sent them south of the border on Tuesday night to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Mexico Game 2010 at the Palacio de los Deportes in Mexico City. It’s all part of the NBA’s initiative to spread the game globally. This preseason, there are a total of seven games played outside the US and Canada. [Update: I originally wrote five games in that last sentence, but I forgot to include the two games where an NBA team played a foreign club. My apologies.]

This isn’t the first visit for Ginobili to the Palacio de los Deportes, as the San Antonio Express-NewsJeff McDonald writes:

Ginobili has played in Palacio de los Deportes before, in an international tournament with the Argentine national team in 2003.

“There were some fights involved,” Ginobili recalled. “The fans were excited to have that kind of game out there. The atmosphere and adrenaline were good.”

But Ginobili isn’t of the opinion that exhibitions like this one create as many fans as the NBA probably hopes.

“I think the arenas are really full and people are gonna love it, but I’m not sure if it’s gonna increase the popularity of the game,” Ginobili said. “Because then you’ve gotta build and you’ve gotta work hard to promote it, and I don’t see that going on.”

But even still, with top players entering the NBA every year from Latin American countries — like Tiago Splitter this year — Manu sees the game growing.

“I know in Argentina [basketball] is very popular. Of course, not even close to soccer, and it never will be, but as far as a second sport in my country it is popular,” Ginobili said. “We’re never gonna get the kind of attention and media that [soccer does]. But it is finally… I really believe that it is probably the second sport in South America.”

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  • DieHardSpur

    Thats too bad about the Argentinian people not recognizing basketball… They have had some unbelievable talent come out of that country…

  • ITGuy

    Buena suerte a Los Spurs.

  • BlaseE

    @ DieHardSpur

    I don’t think that is what Manu was trying to say. He is saying soccer will always be number one, not that basketball is going unrecognized. I read his statements as positive towards South America’s relationship towards basketball as the second most popular sport.

    I believe the US went from baseball to football as the number 1 sport. That never meant basketball went unrecognized.

  • Sinok

    Well, Brazil or Argentina aren’t really part of Latin America, rather South America (a mere few thousand kilometers make the differece I guess).

    Thus Tiago isn’t really a Latin American player, the same for Manu…

  • DieHardSpur


    Good call – I guess I misunderstood.

  • Alix Babaie

    Yeah, it’s not like soccer here being dead last, at least basketball ranks second in Argentina. Soccer ranks right down there with bowling in America.

  • Jim Henderson

    Sloan is a very good coach, but I would not rank him ahead of Pop:

  • Andrew A. McNeill


    I disagree, Latin America is generally considered most of Central and South America.

  • balance

    Actually Brazil and Argentina are part of both, South America and Latin America. The same way the USA are part of North America and Anglo America.

    What is your definition of Latin America anyway?

  • Ale

    Sorry for Manu but basketball is not the second sport in Argentina, the second sport is car racing and maybe rugby is also over basketball.

  • Pablo

    In most geography books Brazil is not considered to be a Latin American country because of many reasons. Its independence process, history, language, and culture made it different from the rest of Latin America.
    Tough Argentina has always been considered to be a part of Latin America, you could say they have a lot of differences from the rest of Latina American countries.
    I think this was what sinok was trying to say.

  • Two Cents

    We are all Americans!!! haha..

  • Zeus

    Are Brazil and Argentina part of Latin America?

    According to my classes in Latin American cultures, Brazil and Argentina are in fact in Latin America because of their Spanish/Portuguese influences, which derive from Latin or “Romance” language speaking cultures.

  • Two Cents

    City of God is good movie filmed in Brazil.

  • andy

    by everything i’ve been taught, and what makes sense to me, is that latin america is a socio-geographic term, more cultural than physical, and south america is purely geographical.

    therefore, argentina/brazil are south america and latin american countries, whereas say nicaragua and mexico are also a latin american countries, but in north america.

    great to see manu believing in the sport in argentina, but i have a hard time believing it too. my girlfriend, who’s argentinian, thinks rugby, car racing, and maybe even polo outrank it in popularity, if not participation.

    also, i would also not rank sloan ahead of pop (even if i think he’s a heck of a coach). and yes, city of god is a great film.

  • Gary

    Coach Ginobilli for the win ?

  • Guilherme

    Here in Brazil we always have considered us Latin America. It just pisses us off when people think our language is Spanish.

    And in the past 15 years volleyball became more popular than basketball, pushing our beloved sport to 3rd in the popularity list (actually, the list should be rearranged with soccer occupying the first 56 spots).

  • Guilherme

    On second thoughts, maybe auto racing is also more popular than basketball.

  • anonymous

    After some research i have found ever country south of the USA is Latin America. Of course Argentena is a Basketball country and they have ab olympic Gold metal to prove it. Manu is the mail one that got it for them and he may be the most popular person in the country. occording to surveys Duncan is the worlds most repected Athlete. So I think, since athletes are more respcted than other celebrities Duncan may be tops in the world and Ginobili tops in America, since most Americans may be Latin Americans. However, I do not agree with all of Manu’s views as he supported homo marriages in Argentena.

  • anonymous

    your language ain’t Spanish but it’s close to Spanish and most Brazilians understand alot of Spanish and can even speak a form of Spanish to their Spanish Speaking neighbors.

  • anonymous

    Nicauraga ain’t in North America but Mexico is. Central America Starts at Belize although their national language is English belize it or not. Hell, i ain’t got enough time to spell Nicoragia rite. I barely got enough to keep correcting you all.