Treading on hallowed ground: A trip to Estadio Manu Ginobili in Bahia Blanca

BAHIA BLANCA, Argentina — The gymnasium where Manu Ginobili developed the game that  has made him an NBA champion, Olympic champion and an NBA All-Star sits a few blocks from the center of Bahia Blanca, a town of nearly 300,000 in the Southeast corner of the province of Buenos Aires.

Ginobili was not the first star to be developed by the basketball club Bahiense del Norte, but he is the most celebrated, by far, and the gym has been re-named in his honor.

Ginobili’s friend, Dario Faure, came behind Ginobili on the Bahiense del Norte team by two years, and he understands the import of the tidy facility.

“This is hallowed ground,” said Faure, my guide on a tour of Bahia Blanca, along with another  Bahia Blancan and fluent English speaker, Federico Groppa, who filled in the gaps in my sincere, yet halting, attempts at speaking Spanish.

The three of us watched two teams of Bahia Blancan kids playing a “Mini A” League  game on Saturday morning, a game that included a lithe youngster with floppy black hair and a reckless style of play. It was, Groppa informed me, one of Ginobili’s nephews, the son of his oldest brother.

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