"Extreme punctuality", the gentile NBA press agent, Saskia Sorrosa, demands in a begging tone. 15.45, Buenos Aires time, is the time scheduled for the heavily sought after conversation that Emanuel Ginóbili will engage Clarin.com via telephone. Relaxed, witty, the main star of Argentine sports transparently opens up from Los Angeles.
What is your analysis of the current NBA season?
It's very positive. With 10 games to go in the regular season, we're at the top of our Conference, and with a better record than last year. We can't complain. The thing is, other teams such as Detroit and Dallas also enjoyed a better season than the previous one, and that makes ours pale a bit.
What team would you like to avoid in the playoffs?
I really don't care. We have to reach the final and win the championship, and for that you need to beat everybody and, when the time comes, we'll be ready to take on anyone.
How are you physically?
I'm much better. It's true, I had a physically difficult season, but lately I've been feeling healthier. The energy is coming back, the legs are coming back, and that's important because the playoffs are around the corner and that's when you want to be at your best.
How do injuries affect you, being as competitive as you are?
They affect me because you know you can't do the same things you do when you're OK, so you take different decisions, you attack the rim less because you can't be as decisive as you are usually. You just have to be more patient, and wait for the right time.
Do you think that the playoffs' intensity can take a toll on you considering the schedule with the National Team later on?
Really, I'm not even thinking about the National Team right now. We have ten games left, we're fighting for the first seed, and then the playoffs will come. So for the time being, I do and give everything for my team.
How do you feel about Argentina getting to the World Championship as a favorite?
There's no doubt we're amongst the favorites. We were runner-ups the last WC, and champions in the Olympic Games, so that's pretty much a given. We'll see what happens when the time comes.
Your brother, Sebastian, is a star in Libertad de Sunchales. Can you imagine having him as a teammate in the WC?
That possibility was made up by the media. I honestly don't think Sepo has a realistic chance to go to the WC. Obviously, I'd love it.
How do you deal with fame?
I do not feel super famous. I am popular, yes, but it doesn't keep me from leading a normal life and enjoying the things I've always liked to do, so to me being famous is not a problem.
Maradona, for instance, has said more than once that he wouldn't lend his fame for a second. Could you live without it?
I think so. Now I enjoy it because I earned it with hard work and playing well, but I do not think that it's for life in my case, so I take advantage of it while it lasts.
Can you imagine your retirement?
It will surely be tough, since I'm used to the pressure, the traveling, living this way. It will be hard the day that's gone. Despite, I'll have to get used to it.
30 years have gone by since the military take of power. How did you feel, being so far away from the country?
I follow closely what goes on in Argentine because my loved ones are there, and I like to be informed. As far as the 30 years since the military take of power, I thought the remembrance and everything they did was great. Maybe it was a little overshadowed by the reading in 'Plaza de Mayo' -literally, May Square-, but it's very good for people to remember and demonstrate as done.
-Translation Note: 1976 signed the start of, in all likelihood, the most tragic of times for us Argentines. That military dictatorship would subsequently take the life of tens of thousands of our countrymen, and plunge us into economic and social chaos. We regained democracy in 1983.-
How do you feel about politics, can you see yourself in the public office in the future?
Honestly I don't see myself in the public office, but you never know. Regardless, I'm more and more into politics. I suppose it happens to everyone. As the years go by, I'm more into the issues.
Do you feel the "role model" tag as a burden?
Sometimes there is pressure, but I try to disregard it. For instance, the statements I make respond to who I am and not some conscious effort -I took a little license in the translation to further clarify a somewhat messy wording-. I'm a very quiet guy, family oriented, and I say what I feel, so many kids take me as role model.
Are you adjusted to the NBA pace for good?
Yes, this is my fourth year, so now this is normal to me. I got used to the life style here, and it no longer surprises me. It's a little difficult going back to the Argentine reality, but I lived for 25 years between our culture and the European, which is very similar to ours, so it's not like I've forgotten it and it would be tough to go back.
In San Antonio you're worshipped. How do they treat you in the rest of the American cities?
They treat me well. Here everything is more relaxed; I can walk the streets quietly. In other places maybe they recognize me, or I catch their eye because of my height. There are no major issues, I'm just another guy.
Do you feel that in Argentina they recognize you for everything that being a star in the NBA implies, or do they appreciate you more in America?
I think that here they appreciate more the accomplishments earned in the NBA. It makes sense because there's a larger tradition, and because in Argentina you can only watch 10 games a year -Note: actually it's closer to 50 than it is to 10, but the point remains.-. Still, I feel that in my country they're aware of what I've achieved.
Did you ever feel discriminated in the NBA, as your role increased?
Not at all. I never felt discriminated. What did happen was that, logically, at first it was hard for me to adjust, and things were tough. I now understand that happened because I was inexperienced.
What do you like the most and the least about the NBA?
The best is the comfort. They take care of the players to the largest possible extent. Almost spoiling them. The worst? The pace. Sometimes you have 5 games in a week and you end up exhausted.
Will you watch the Argentine NT in the Soccer World Cup?
The truth is I'm not much into soccer. Here they do not televise the games, and the competition pace doesn't leave me much free time. However, I think the World Cup is an event that exceeds all that, and for that I'll try to follow it. I hope Argentina wins, because in the last couple of World Cups we didn't do too well, let's say.
What do you know about Messi?
I didn't watch him play and here there isn’t much soccer news. They did tell me that he is phenomenal. I hope he does great, but I ask that he not be pressured. He's just 19 -Note: he's 18-. And he plays for Barcelona, let's not forget that.
Did it happen to you that, as a child, that they tried to push your development?
No, my career developed slowly, but I figure it must be tough being that young and tagged the next world superstar.
Can Argentina have another Ginóbili within 10 years?
I don't know. I do not follow Argentina's basketball because they don't televise the games here. I watched a few of the U21 World Championship, and I saw some good prospects, but I can't tell if there is a successor in place.
What makes you proud about your career, what would you like to change?
Obviously, the titles earned. I think I gave my best everywhere I played, and now I can enjoy many accomplishments. I have no regrets. Luckily I've done very well and I've always been at the right place, so I have nothing to reproach myself for.
Last edited by mg06; 04-01-06 at 04:46 AM.