Trophy Tour Blog
MONDAY, JULY 7
In the final appearance of the #SpursTrophyTour in Manu’s hometown of Bahia Blanca, he desired to take professional photos with the trophy in two iconic locations within the city.
The Municipal Theatre of Bahia Blanca is one of the most recognizable and important cultural centers of the region, as well as one of the most important theaters in Argentina. On average the theater, which opened its doors in 1913, hosts 300 annual premium features. Manu said the building is one of the most iconic in the city.
Manu explained that the yearly charity run in Bahia Blanca begins at this theater. Additionally, one of Manu’s fondest memories occurred here, as the Argentina National Team that won the 2004 Gold Medal in Athens congregated at the theatre once they returned to celebrate with the city and country.
The second location Manu wanted to take the Larry O’Brien Trophy was a special perch in Bahia Blanca that overlooks the city. Just outside a local neighborhood, Manu said many citizens have congregated here over the years to gain the best and brightest view that the Argentina city has to offer.
That’s it for Argentina. Larry would like to thank the Ginobilis for being such gracious hosts over the past few days. We’ll pick the #SpursTrophyTour back up later this week when Larry travels to New Hampshire! Go Spurs Go!
SUNDAY, JULY 6
Today was a celebration for Manu and all of his supporters while he was growing up in Bahia Blanca. Two days prior, Manu sent an email to all of his family and closest friends, asking them to gather at the local club (gym) where he grew up playing (named Club Bahiense Del Norte). No, Manu would not be playing or hosting any pick-up games, rather allowing his closest loved ones a chance to take photos with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Manu took advantage of the #SpursTrophyTour, getting together all of those from his past. Not only did the group take one big photo together, but each family was allowed to take a shot with Larry. It was exciting to witness the faces of everyone, from young children to grandparents, light up when coming in contact with NBA championship trophy.
It was a special day celebrating Manu and all that he has meant to his hometown. The influence he has had on so many, including many children running around in Ginobili jerseys, was rewarding to witness. But the South America influence was definitely felt, as some children were playing pick-up games with a soccer ball.
Manu spoke of how much everyone in the gym meant to him and helped him achieve all that he has in his career. While watching numerous young ones play basketball, I had to think to myself if there was another future ‘Manu’ in the gym. A gym that Manu himself grew up in, playing and practicing every day to one day achieve greatness. And today was a day that he and his loved ones celebrated those dreams that have become reality.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
Jet lag is alive and well for Larry and his handler! Think we are recuperated after a couple of good nights of sleep.
On Saturday, Manu invited me to a family and friends BBQ. On the way to the get-together, Manu talked a little bit about growing up in Bahia Blanca. Much to my surprise, he told me that his hometown city was the only one in the country that basketball was the most popular. He said that rugby and soccer were also popular, but not as much as basketball.
Once arrived, everyone was extremely nice and accommodating. Even though I speak very little Spanish, I felt the love and hospitality. And luckily, Manu served as an interpreter when needed. I have also discovered that it is custom around here to greet those around you with a kiss on the cheek (something I'm still getting used to!). Manu explained that it was also custom here for families and friends to get together at least once a week and have a big feast. And boy was it! After two full plates and two desserts, I could have sworn it was November and I was back home for Thanksgiving dinner.
Meanwhile, all family and friends watched the World Cup match between Argentina and Belgium. Manu told me it was hard to comprehend the deep emotions and pride that the people from Argentina have for their team. He said if Argentina wins — big celebrations. If it loses — much sadness. Certainly as a guest, I was excited to see Argentina hold on to win, 1-0. On the way back to my hotel, car flags (and some people personally waving them out of the windows) lined the streets. Not even rain would deter the locals from celebrating. Country pride is a powerful thing!
FRIDAY, JULY 4
Immediately upon arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Manu was shuttled to a conference room at the airport to meet local media. Approximately 80 media members watched Manu appear from behind the stage with the Larry O'Brien Trophy in hand (prompting applause). This event marked the first public appearance for Larry on the #SpursTrophyTour.
Manu fielded questions for approximately 30-40 minutes, many of which included inquiries about the Spurs Finals victory in June over Miami and Argentina's upcoming appearance in the World Championships. After the final question, Manu stood on the corner of the stage and graciously posed with the Larry O'Brien Trophy for photographers.
The Ginbobili clan then quickly boarded a plane to Bahia Blanca, Argentina (Manu's hometown), which is approximately five driving hours away. This is where the trophy will stay for the duration of the tour in Argentina, meeting Manu's extended family, friends and hometown fans in the coming days.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
Our journey began in the great city of San Antonio on the eve of U.S. Independence Day, Thursday, July 3. Arriving around 1 p.m. at the airport, we were quickly met with numerous stares and suspicions of how this big crate (carrying the Larry O'Brien Trophy) would be allowed onto an airplane (well-over the 50 pound limit). Several jetsetters along the way asked me what was in the bulky tote, but the answer was never revealed (we didn't have time for a gazillion photo-ops while trying to catch our plane).
Luckily, we have many great planners at the Spurs organization, and the airport and respective airline knew we would be strolling in. To avoid pulling the trophy out of its case in front of the long line of travelers patiently (and some impatiently) waiting in the security line, we were sequestered into our very own private room (where security was more than willing, and quite excited) to take a peek of the contents inside.
After successfully making it through security, with even a high-five or two from attendants, we were finished with the first leg of the boarding process. Pushing this large crate around is fairly easy with the rollers — until we encountered a large ramp on the tile. Hold on!
Larry and its holder (me) of course had to present our passports to leave the United States. Once cleared, the airline was gracious enough to allow the crate to be stored inside a closet in the cabin (often used for the pilots and flight attendants' bags), instead of summoning the trophy below with the normal luggage (THANKS!).
Navigating to my seat after leaving Larry to sleep in his dark oasis, an hour-long delay due to a door issue kept us grounded (which we were all grateful they decided to ensure this was repaired prior to takeoff). After an all-night, nine hour flight, Larry and I arrived safely in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It's winter here, so the 30 degree temperature was quite the contrast from the 95 degree day earlier experienced in San Antonio.
It was a long first day of travel on the #SpursTrophyTour, but we can't wait to see where this journey around the world takes us ... beginning this weekend in South America!