“It’s quite heavy,” the first words from Manu Ginóbili as he held his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame trophy on the steps of the stage where he had just been enshrined at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Ginóbili was the last to be honored and without question the most popular of the inductees.
Those that were left in their seats, clearly Spurs and Argentina National team fans, cheered often.
Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich made the trip along with The Admiral David Robinson and Tony Parker, who could be the next Hall of Famer from the Spurs.
Tim Duncan was Manu’s presenter, which meant he had to sit on stage next to Ginóbili, which prompted a joke about Tim’s reluctance about being in the spotlight.
Manu became emotional when speaking to his family in Spanish but he also made a point of his relationship with the fans that made him arguably the most popular Spur in franchise history.
“I felt the love,” admitted Manu. “I tried to return it every night, every game, every pregame. I think we had a symbiotic relationship. We loved each other.”
Ginóbili’s passion and tenacity for the game is what has attracted fans to him, so family aside, is this moment, this night the pinnacle of his career.
“I don’t know, yes or no. This is strange,” as Manu argued with himself. “I never live for individual accomplishments, as I said before, but I love having some of my former teammates, coaches, Argentinian teammates, because again it’s recognizing those two teams especially to celebrate them. The thing I always cared the most about was the teams. I’m very glad to be here and celebrating with them.”