One of basketball’s pioneers is leaving the sport he not only gave so much to, but did so in a one-of-a-kind way.
Manu Ginobili announced his retirement on Monday, bringing a close to a stellar career that spanned 23 years and three different continents.
The Argentine’s exit also closes the chapter on the San Antonio Spurs dynasty, of which Ginobili was the last remaining relic other than head coach Gregg Popovich.
While Tim Duncan was the backbone of the dynasty, Ginobili was the player who added the missing elements that gave the Spurs the spice they needed – creativity, fearlessness and a unique, incomparable style of play.
Today, with a wide range of feelings, I'm announcing my retirement from basketball. IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It's been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams. pic.twitter.com/3MLCUtmd6K— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) August 27, 2018
His ability to do practically everything on a basketball court, and do it in a way that exuded joy and revealed his genius, made him one of the most fascinating players to watch in the league. He was hardly ever conventional, providing a touch of magic and unpredictability to the Spurs’ machine-like perfection.
The Eurostep, for example, is a move Ginobili revolutionised, paving the way for stars to adapt and integrate it into their arsenal.
His no-look passes, dance-like footwork and knack for dazzling were juxtaposed with an insatiable desire to win, which saw Ginobili sacrifice more than anyone during the Spurs’ run for the chance to raise banners to the rafters.
His career averages of 13.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds hardly suggest a Hall of Fame career, but Ginobili’s brilliance was never told through his numbers. He willingly accepted a sixth man, coming off the bench in 708 of the 1,057 games he played in, despite possessing all the talent of a starter.
Ginobili was everything San Antonio needed him to be, while at the same time being everything they didn’t always know they needed.
And that was just in his NBA career. His resume, which is headlined by four NBA titles, also features a EuroLeague crown, EuroLeague Finals MVP, Italian League championship, Italian Cup MVP and a gold medal won at Athens in 2004.
Basketball will miss Ginobili, not just for what he accomplished, but because there will never be another one like him.
Denver Nuggets centre/power forward Plumlee and a great supporting coaching staff from the US, including Doug Young, former director of the Kobe Bryant Basketball Academy, are hosting a four-day youth development programme as well as youth and adult 3×3 basketball tournaments you can get involved in this week.
Former Duke Blue Devils standout Plumlee, along with his pro team – US coaches from well-established high schools and colleges – will take the campers through the high-intensity, drill based four-day US training programme.
Each attendee receives a camp t-shirt, photo with Plumlee and a certificate of participation.
The MVP from the camp, meanwhile, gets the glittering grand prize of a paid trip to the Nike Basketball Camp in the US.
Participants will range from six to 18-years-old for the four-day camp, which runs from Tuesday, August 28 to August 31 at AFLEC School (Lycee Francais International de Dubai) on Oud Metha Road.
The camp culminates in a youth 3×3 tournament on Friday, with the tournament designed for boys and girls of three age categories: 8-10-years-old; 10-12-years-old and 12-16. All participants get a complimentary t-shirt.
The winning team receives a Nike basketball and apparel set, including shorts, t-shirt, socks and gets to play against Plumlee and his team.
Plumlee’s visit to the Emirates ends on September 7 with an adult 3×3 tournament, designed for the male players 17 years and above.
Each participant receives a complimentary t-shirt.
The lucky winners get Dh3,000, the runners-up will earn Dh2,000 while there is also Dh1,000 up for grabs for third place. The champions will also get to play a friendly match with Plumlee and his team. All games will take place at Lycee Francais International de Dubai.
As a freshman in 2009/10, the 28-year-old Plumlee was a back-up forward for the Duke Blue Devils basketball team’s national championship team, playing with his older brother Miles.
He was selected with the 22nd overall pick by the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013 NBA draft and has gone on to play for the Portland Trail Blazers, while he has been with the Nuggets since 2017.
He was also a member of the United States national team that competed in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, winning a gold medal.
What: Mason Plumlee summer camp and 3×3 basketball tournaments
Where: Aflec School
When: August 28-31 and September 7
Contact: Call +971 4 447 2394 or email [email protected]
We’re less than two months removed from the NBA draft, but the excitement is already brewing for one of the top prospects in next year’s class.
Zion Williamson has been on the radar for some time now thanks to his ridiculous dunks in high school, and now that he’s entering his freshman year at Duke, the buzz he’s creating is already unavoidable.
If you’ve never seen the 18-year-old, he looks more like an NFL defensive end than a fleet-footed forward. Listed by Duke at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, his size is eye-popping for someone his age, but what’s truly spectacular is his combination of power and athleticism.
Williamson is a high flyer in every sense of the word. He regularly posterises defenders with rim-rocking slams and somehow, can easily dunk from the free throw line despite carrying as much weight as he does.
He also utilises his explosiveness on the other end of the floor as well, often making jaw-dropping blocks in which he swallows up a player’s shot.
While Williamson is undoubtedly a walking highlight, there are still questions surrounding his ability as an all-around player who can thrive against better athletes at the college level and beyond.
In his first game with Duke, the potential one-and-done star eased some of those concerns with a monster effort against Ryerson.
It was a preseason game against a subpar opponent, but Williamson looked convincing for the Blue Devils in the 86-67 win.
In his 29-point, 13-rebound performance, Williamson produced some stellar moments, including a putback dunk and alley-oop slam. He also showcased his ability to absolutely sky for rebounds, as well as his underrated ball-handling.
Most importantly though, Williamson shot 3-of-4 from long range – a positive sign considering his outside shooting is the weakest part of his game.
With everything he can do inside the arc, Williamson doesn’t have to be a knockdown 3-point shooter to have success in the NBA. However, being able to keep defences honest by hitting open 3s would go a long way in opening up his game.
Heading into what is expected to be his lone season at Duke, Williamson is considered a top-five draft prospect, along with teammates R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. With the Blue Devils loaded with talent this year, it will be interesting to see the hierarchy among the trio.
Barrett, Reddish and Williamson are all around the same height, but whereas Williamson is more of undersized big man, Barrett and Reddish are pure wings who can operate as three-level scorers.
While Williamson may not be the best prospect of the three, it’s certainly possible he’s not only the most exciting Duke player to watch this season, but the most exciting player in the nation.