Former San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili recently joined the Hall of Fame.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson celebrated the milestone by calling the Argentine “one of the most unstoppable players” in the history of the league.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 11, 2022
It’s lofty praise from arguably the best point guard ever. But the claim is definitely valid, especially given how instrumental Ginobili’s role was in San Antonio’s dynasty in the 2000s.
Ginobili joined San Antonio for the 2002-03 season, three years after the franchise selected him with the 57th overall pick of the 1999 draft. It did not take long for him to make a name for himself in the NBA.
While he needed some time to adjust to the NBA’s style of play, he eventually found his stride. The Spurs held the top seed in the West entering the 2003 playoffs thanks in part to a strong season from Tim Duncan, who took home the MVP honors that season.
San Antonio eliminated the Phoenix Suns in the first round. Ginobili was already a part of the rotation by then, averaging 30.3 minutes per game in the six-game series.
Next up for the Spurs were the Lakers, the defending champions. The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Despite heroic efforts by the dynamic duo, L.A. succumbed to San Antonio in six games.
Ginobili continued to play a key role off the bench in that series. He averaged 24.8 minutes per game, scoring 11.7 points per contest on an efficient 51.2 percent shooting clip.
The Spurs ultimately won the title that year, which was one of four rings for Ginobili.
Throughout his career, Ginobili faced the Lakers a total of 50 times. He won 34 of those contests.
Fortunately, the Lakers were able to get revenge on Ginobili and his team in the 2004 and 2008 playoffs. Otherwise, some Lakers fans would probably still be too frustrated to agree with Johnson’s assertion regarding the Hall of Famer.