There were eight national basketball players selected in the talent market that the United States league has. The last one dates from 2015.
Eight Argentines were chosen through the Draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA), although only three of them got to play in the powerful league of the United States, among which Emanuel Ginobili is the highest representative and the only one who managed to be crowned champion four times, with the San Antonio Spurs.
The total roster of national basketball players who came to the NBA has twelve members, but nine of them did not need to be drafteados so that different franchises noticed them and ended up hiring them, including six members of the Golden Generation.
In fact, the first three Argentines who participated in the selection process of players to enter the NBA did not play in the United States. And instead the path in the North American league was opened by two athletes who should not have gone through the Draft for, at the beginning of the 21st century, to have been the pioneers: Juan Ignacio Sánchez in Philadelphia 76ers and Rubén Wolkowyski in Seattle Supersonics.
If the projections are confirmed before the 2020 edition of the Draft, Leandro Bolmaro could be the ninth Argentine to be selected in the great talent market that the NBA before starting each of their seasons.
Jorge González, with an estimated height of 2.30 meters, was a great attraction for the NBA, which had an incipient expansion process. In Argentina he had been a member of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata and Sport Club de Cañada de Gómez teams until Atlanta Hawks elected him 54th in the third round of the 1988 Draft.
Gonzalez was tested by the Georgia team, but Ted Turner, the franchise owner, also ran the wrestling business. Therefore, the Giant had in the Wrestling of the United States the fame that he had come to seek with basketball. He was a professional wrestler until 1995.
After this he returned to the country, over the years his health deteriorated and, at just 44 years old, he died in 2010 due to acromegaly, in addition to diabetes and other failures in his system.
A few minutes after the Hawks chose Gonzalez, Hernán Abel Montenegro Koch was drafted by the Philadelphia Sixers in 57th place. El Loco, with 2.06 meters and owner of an extraordinary talent, was then 21 years old but had already been runner-up in the National League with Olimpo de Bahía Blanca and played the 1986 World Cup in Spain with the Argentine National Team.
Previous overflight by the Puerto Rico League, he managed to be signed by Louisiana State University, where he did not play but anyway that step helped him so that the Pennsylvania franchise took him into account for the Draft.
He could have been teammates with Charles Barkley, who was then a young star on the Sixers., but the Bahiense said that he had prioritized better contracts that were offered to him in Europe, since to the rookies the NBA didn’t pay them good salaries. And he went to play in the second division of Italy.
Santafesino de Rafaela and a career started early in Europe, Marcelo Patricio Nicola was selected by the Houston Rockets in 1993, when I was 22 years old: was in position 50 for a franchise that used his rights in the operation that in 1995 allowed him to take the guard Clyde Drexler, from the Portland Trail Blazers, who was one of the figures in the team that won his second consecutive ring with Hakeem Olajuwon in center, Kenny Smith base and Rudy Tomjanovich as coach.
The rafaelino, of 2.07 meters, was another paragon of talent and therefore a very serious project for the NBA, although his landing was truncated. He had a five-day trial with the Blazers, but did not sign a contract and continued his career in the Old World, where he reached Barcelona, won a European Cup with Baskonia and retired in 2007 playing at Pallacanestro Reggiana.
In 1999, Emanuel David Ginobili was ending his first contract in Italian basketball, with Reggio Calabria, when he was chosen by the San Antonio Spurs in 57th place. Manu stayed three more years in Italy, where with Kinder Bologna he reached the top of the continent by winning the Euroleague (2001). When he was chosen by the Texas franchise, on June 30, the southpaw was concentrated with the Argentine National Team in the Brazilian Amazon.
He was not the first Argentine to play in the NBA but he was the first to do so after being drafteado. He made his debut on October 29, 2002 on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. He had reached the most important league in the world after the first great performance of the Golden Generation, which in September was runner-up at the Indianapolis World Cup after having unbeaten the Dream Team and lost the final against Yugoslavia.
In 19 seasons at Spurs, Ginobili won four NBA titles, in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 and played the All Star Game twice (2005 and 2011).
The 2002 Draft was the last in which two Argentines were involved. Back then, A young Federico Kammerichs was presented by the NBA as one of the most promising youth in the country and was chosen in position 51 by the Portland Trail Blazers. Power forward of 2.04 meters, long arms and a temperament that made up for the lack of centimeters, the Yacaré was another of those who were drafted but did not reach the United States league.