San Antonio Spurs

Manu Ginobili Serves as Translator for San Antonio Spurs Teammates

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 20: Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs speaks with the media after the losing to the Miami Heat in Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals on June 20, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE  (Photo by Bruce Yeung/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bruce Yeung/Getty Images
Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 24, 2013

Manu Ginobili has always seemed a curious fit for the San Antonio Spurs.

For a franchise that's set the standard for NBA consistency (league-record 14 consecutive 50-win seasons), the 36-year-old has been its wild card throughout his 12-year career.

He'll shoot from anywhere on the floor at any time during the shot clock. He'll force his way through the tiniest driving lanes or zip passes through even smaller windows. The guy even handles animal control duty if he has to.

Through all of his cringe-worthy moments, Ginobili's held a special place in San Antonio for his willingness to do it all.

It's hard to pin down everything that shows up on his job description, but if anyone's up to the task, there's another item to add to that list: translator.

Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News has the details:

Fluent in English, Italian and, of course, Spanish, Ginobili serves as the team’s resident translator. He speaks the latter with Tiago Splitter, the middle with newcomer Marco Belinelli and the former with everyone else on the team. Sharp as he might be, keeping track of so many different languages isn’t easy.

“At times it’s confusing,” Ginobili said. “I start speaking Italian to Patty (Mills) and Spanish to Pop, and then I know I have to back up a little bit and take it easy. But it’s fun. You feel like you have a little advantage that you can communicate in a different language the other ones are not understanding."

The Spurs’ global approach to scouting has left a heavy impression on the team’s draft hauls. San Antonio has selected at least one international player in each of the last 12 drafts and plucked two players from the global market on three of those draft nights.

It’s hard to argue with the method. Led by Ginobili (Argentina), Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Tony Parker (France), the Spurs have added three championship banners since 2003 and were a Ray Allen miracle away from adding another last season.

While this sharp eye for international talent has helped in the win column, it’s also led to some inherent challenges in terms of communication. I suppose San Antonio could fill its locker room with copies of Rosetta Stone, but speaking through Ginobili is more financially friendly and less time consuming.

I'd imagine it's a lot more fun, too. Who knows how much of the original statement survives Ginobili's translations?

How many different ways are there to say "Give Manu the ball?" More in his dictionary than in anyone else's, I'm sure.

 

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