San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili had one last go-around with the press after announcing his retirement earlier this summer, giving Argentinian talisman Lionel Messi his due after the soccer great showered him with praise after Ginobili announced his retirement.
Interviewer: “A lot of press in Europe call you the Messi of basketball, but Messi told the press ‘No, I am the Manu of football’. What is your reaction to the best football player putting you above himself.”
Ginobili: “He [Messi] showed kindness to the veteran that is leaving, but obviously there is no need in pointing out Messi’s unjust statement. He is the best in the world, I am just one more in the NBA world. I come from a country which does not have a tradition of creating successful basketball players, and that’s why the comparisons [with Messi] have been mentioned. But with Messi we are talking about an all time great, not a successful player in his era.”
Basketball plays second fiddle to Argentina's national sport, which has been king since Ginobili's ancestors were born. Yet the amount of rabid supporting Ginobili has gotten from his countrymen has been astonishing, as fans would travel with their international jerseys just to see Manu one last time at the AT&T Center.
Messi has won five Ballon D'Or awards and has been up for the award for every season since 2009, but was recently not included in the running for the first time in 10 years. Ginobili only has two All-Star mentions along with his four NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal.
While the comparisons between the two are likely unrealistic to make, the two are surely among the best in their respective sports during the course of their careers.