Watching NBA on TNT is entertaining when you’re looking for comedy instead of the nuances of the NBA game. With Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on the panel, there’s a joke that’s uttered often. This time it’s Barkley with the unintentional joke as he refers San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili as European.
Um… unless Ginobili has gotten a citizenship change a la Andray Blatche, the three-time NBA champion is far from European. He hails from the South American country of Argentina.
There is the minuscule chance that Barkley is referring to Manu’s time playing in the Euroleague where he collected an assortment of accolades that will help bolster his chance to make the NBA’s Hall of Fame. Some of those accolades includes winning the Euroleague championship and Finals MVP in 2001, being named All-Euroleague first team in 2001-02, and being named one of the 50 greatest contributor in Euroleague club basketball history in 2008. Combine that with Manu’s three NBA championship, his Sixth Man of the Year trophy from 2008 and he’s all but a shoe-in for the Hall.
But of course, the odds are Chuck wasn’t referring to Manu’s experience playing European basketball. It’s a play on the typical American ignorance as outsiders think that we know nothing about the rest of the world, only knowing things about our own selves. Had Manu been born in a European country, Chuck’s words will hold weight, as Manu would be in the same tier as Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Pau Gasol (Spain), and his teammate in Tony Parker (France).
But he’s not European. He’s Argentinian.