Although few Latinos have made the All-Star, their impact has been significant.
Although not many Latinos have reached the level necessary to enter this competition, those who have achieved it have marked the game in a significant way. Photos: Wikimedia-Richard Durrett, Flickr-Michael Tipton
LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño
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Leer en español: La corta (pero interesante) historia de los latinos en el All-Star
The traditional All-Star Game or All-Star, as it is known in English, will be held this Sunday. In it, the best of the best from the league's eastern and western conferences will face off.
Although not many Latinos have reached the level necessary to enter this competition, those who have achieved it have marked the game in a significant way. Let's see who they were.
Latinos in the All-Star
Perhaps the oldest Latino player to enter the NBA, Rolando was born in Panama in 1959 before moving to Brooklyn, New York at the age of eight. Rolando played the majority of his career for the Dallas Mavericks, spending 11 years with them from 1981 to 1992, and was a major addition, even leading them to their first playoff appearance in the 1983-1984 season. Although he never won a championship, Blackman was nominated 4 times for the All-Star Game in 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1990.
His tenure with the team was considered one of the best moments in that organization until the arrival of Dirk Nowitzki in 1998.
The only active Latino player to have been an All-Star, Horford was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Horford began playing for the NBA in 2007 for the Atlanta Hawks and has since played for the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, his current team.
Horford is a good power forward who has averaged 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists during his career. Horford has been part of the Dominican Republic national team since 2006. His 5 All-Star appearances were in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, and 2018.
Although his impact is not very noticeable in the statistics (Horford borders on a double-double with rebounds and points in almost all his seasons as an All-Star) he was considered at the time as a solid and useful player for any team. In an interview with VICE in 2016, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens summed up the importance of Horford best:
"He doesn't have to be the guy who shoots all the time who drives all the time," says Stevens. "He's a teammate and a winning basketball player ... Those guys always help your locker room, they always help the people around them, they're always good at young players spending time and learning from them. I think everyone will benefit from your presence. "
Saving the best for last, we have the most successful Latino player the NBA has ever had in its history. This is the Argentine Manu Ginobili, who was born in Bahía Blanca Argentina and, unlike Blackman and Horford, did not move to the United States until his professional reputation was well established.
Ginobili was not only a 4-time NBA champion, but his ability also allowed him to be in the All-Star twice, in 2005 and 2011. His number, 20, was retired by the San Antonio Spurs, the team in which it was 16 years.
Ginobili's style of play was like him, an anomaly. Far from being a player with solid foundations, during the early years of his career, Ginobili attacked the rim with force and contorted his body in unconventional ways. When he lost a bit of that athleticism in the later years of his career, he gained fame as one of the strangest passers in the league. It seemed like he could find passing angles in any way, between the legs, behind the back, and even between the legs of his rivals quite regularly.