Ginóbili comes from a family of basketball players. His oldest brother, Leandro, retired in 2003 after seven years in the Argentine basketball league, while brother Sebastián has played in both the Argentine local league and in the Spanish 2nd-tier level Liga Española de Baloncesto. Their father Jorge was a coach at a club in Bahía Blanca, where Ginóbili learned to play the game. Given the proliferation of basketball clubs in Bahía Blanca and his idolization of Michael Jordan, Ginóbili's love for basketball grew rapidly.
Ginóbili has dual citizenship with Argentina and Italy, thanks to his Marchesan descent. As a result of his travels, he can speak Spanish, Italian and English fluently. He used his Italian citizenship, while he played profesional basketball in Italy. In his free time, Ginóbili enjoys listening to Latin music, watching movies and relaxing with his friends. In 2004, he married fellow Argentine Marianela Oroño. On 16 May 2010, his wife gave birth to twin boys, Dante and Nicola. On April 21, 2014, his wife gave birth to their third son, Luca.
Ginóbili made his professional debut in the Argentine basketball league for the Andino Sport Club team of La Rioja from 1995–1996, and was traded to Estudiantes de Bahía Blanca the next year. He played with his hometown team until 1998.
The Argentine moved to Europe to spend the 1998–1999 and 1999–2000 seasons with Italian team Basket Viola Reggio Calabria. In 1999, he teamed with Brent Scott, Brian Oliver and Sydney Johnson to earn promotion from the Italian 2nd Division to the Italian 1st Division.
Ginóbili then entered the 1999 NBA draft and the San Antonio Spurs selected him late in the second round with the 57th overall pick. However, he did not sign with the Spurs at this point. Instead, he returned to Italy to play for Kinder Bologna, which he helped win the 2001 Italian League Championship, the 2001 and 2002 Italian Cups, and the 2001 EuroLeague, where he was named the Euroleague 2000–01 EuroLeague Finals MVP. He was also named the Italian League MVP in 2000–01 and 2001–02, and made the Italian League's All-Star Game three times during this period.
At the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, Ginóbili made the All-Tournament team alongside future NBA star Yao Ming and established NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojaković, and helped lead Argentina to a second-place finish.
The Argentine joined the Spurs for the 2002–03 NBA season, where he played backup for veteran guard Steve Smith. He spent much of the early season injured, and found it hard to adjust to the NBA's style of play. As his injury improved, so did Ginóbili, winning the Western Conference Rookie of the Month in March, and being named to the All-Rookie Second Team at the end of the season. Still, he only started in five games as the Spurs chalked up a 60–22 regular season win–loss record. The Spurs then entered the playoffs eager to upend the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers, at which point, Ginóbili rose to prominence.
In contrast to his regular season, Ginóbili became an integral part of Gregg Popovich's rotational set up in the playoffs, playing in every game. The Spurs eliminated Phoenix and Los Angeles and in those games his scoring threat took opponents by surprise, giving them one more thing to cope with against the now highly favored Spurs. He helped guide them past the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals and then the New Jersey Nets in the Finals, securing San Antonio's second championship. After the win, Ginóbili won his first Olimpia de Oro ("Golden Olympia") as Argentina's sportsperson of the year, and met Argentine president Néstor Kirchner. A gym in Bahía Blanca was dedicated in Ginóbili's honor as well.
In the 2003–04 season, the Spurs began featuring Ginóbili more regularly, starting him in half of the 77 regular season games in which he played. His statistics improved in all major categories, as he averaged 12.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. During the 2004 playoffs, the Spurs met their perennial rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Western Conference Semifinals. Following Game 5 where Derek Fisher scored a buzzer-beating jump shot, the Spurs lost Game 6 and the series 4–2. While Ginóbili did not start in a single playoff game as he did in 2003, his playoff statistics improved significantly, with 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
After some initial issues with San Antonio over his contract, Ginóbili re-signed with the Spurs and started every game during the 2004–05 season. This was his best season yet as he was selected as a reserve by NBA coaches to the 2005 Western Conference All-Star team, marking his debut in the elite mid-season showcase. During the playoffs, Ginóbili's play was pivotal to winning San Antonio's third championship. The Spurs first defeated Phoenix 4–1 in the Conference Finals, before prevailing in a very defensive oriented seven-game series against the Detroit Pistons. Ginóbili recorded career-highs in his playoff numbers, most notably 20.8 ppg and 5.8 rpg, and had the third highest point total in the entire playoffs. In the NBA Finals MVP Award voting, the shooting guard was a candidate but was edged out by teammate and captain Tim Duncan. The former finished the 2004–05 season as the second leading scorer on the team. During the season, he became only the fourth person to win consecutive Olimpias de Oro, this time sharing the award with soccer star Carlos Tévez.
The 2005–06 season was an injury-plagued one for Ginóbili, who suffered foot and ankle injuries that hindered his ability to play. He managed 65 games in the regular season, but saw a dip in major statistics as compared to the previous season. During the playoffs, he returned to form, but was unable to prevent the Spurs from being eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Semifinals.
In the 2006–07 season, the Spurs lacked energy from their reserves and Ginóbili provided it by coming off the bench for most of the second half of the season helping the Spurs attain the best record in the second half of the season. Ginóbili produced numbers closely identical to his successful 2004–05 campaign despite starting in only 36 of 75 games, his second lowest since arriving at San Antonio. The 2007 NBA Playoffs saw him help the Spurs to defeat the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz, before sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers to win his third and San Antonio's fourth championship.
Ginóbili was to play an even bigger role for the Spurs the following season, reaching career high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and three-point field goal percentage. On 21 April 2008, the NBA announced that Ginóbili had won the 2008 Sixth Man Award; only a couple of weeks later, the Argentine was also named to the All-NBA Third Team. In the playoffs, the Spurs defeated the Suns 4–1 in the first round, Ginóbili was moved to the starting lineup in the second round against the New Orleans Hornets after the Spurs lost the first two road games. San Antonio eventually prevailed in seven games, the Argentine played another strong series, leading the Spurs in points and assists per game (21.3 and 6.0 respectively). However, San Antonio lost to arch-rivals Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals in five games, and once again failed to capture back-to-back NBA championships.
The following season, Ginóbili was injured for most of the campaign, managing only 44 regular season games and missing the 2009 NBA Playoffs entirely. San Antonio qualified for the playoffs as the third seed with a 54–28 record, but with an aging supporting cast (Bowen, Michael Finley and Kurt Thomas were all in their late 30s), the Spurs were only considered fringe contenders for the championship. As it turned out, the strong play of Duncan and Tony Parker were not enough to help the Spurs avoid a 4–1 defeat by Dallas, and the Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
On 31 October 2009, in a game against the Sacramento Kings, a bat descended onto the court at the AT&T Center, causing a stoppage of play. As the bat flew past, Ginóbili swatted the bat to the ground with his hand. He then carried the creature off the court, earning the applause of the crowd. On 9 April 2010, the Spurs and Ginóbili agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract extension through the 2012–13 season.
In 2010–11, Ginóbili was named a Western Conference All-Star and was named to the All-NBA third team.
In the lockout-shortened 2011–12, Ginóbili helped the Spurs go 50–16, as they advanced through to the Western Conference Finals, where they were defeated 4–2 by the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Game 5 of the series, Ginóbili had a 34-point effort.
In 2012–13, the Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals, where they faced the Miami Heat. In Game 5 of the series, Ginóbili scored a season-high 24 points, as the Spurs went up 3–2. However, they went on to lose Games 6 and 7 to lose the series in seven games.
On 11 July 2013, Ginóbili re-signed with the Spurs on a two-year deal. In 2013–14, the Spurs had a league-best 62–20 record. Ginóbili finished third in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year. In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Thunder, Duncan-Ginóbili-Parker won their 110th career game in the playoffs, matching Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper from the Los Angeles Lakers. The Spurs reached the NBA Finals again, where they faced the Heat for the second year in a row. This time, they dominated the series, winning 4–1 to claim that franchise's fifth championship; Ginóbili won his fourth championship as a Spur.
On 20 July 2015, Ginóbili re-signed with the Spurs. On 14 January 2016, in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ginóbili played his 900th NBA game, all with the Spurs. On February 4, he underwent surgery after suffering a testicular injury in the Spurs' win over the New Orleans Pelicans the previous night. He was subsequently sidelined for one month. He returned to the action on March 5 after missing 12 games with the injury, scoring 22 points in 15 minutes against the Sacramento Kings.
On 14 July 2016, Ginóbili re-signed with the Spurs. On 9 November 2016, in a loss to the Houston Rockets, Ginóbili became the 15th second-rounder to reach 13,000 points and joined Rashard Lewis as the only second-round draft picks in NBA history with 13,000 career points and at least 1,300 three-pointers.
Note: The EuroLeague is not the only competition in which the player participated for the team during the season. He also played in domestic competition, and regional competition if applicable.
Ginóbili played with the junior Argentine national team at the 1997 FIBA Under-21 World Championship, where his team finished in 4th place. Ginóbili is a member of the senior Argentine national basketball team, and made his senior debut during the 1998 FIBA World Championship in Athens. He also played at the 2002 FIBA World Championship, where he won a silver medal. His best accomplishment as a member of the national team came at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics when Argentina became the first team other than Team USA to win the gold medal in 16 years. The highlight of the tournament was his game-winning buzzer beater with 0.7 seconds remaining, on the opening day of the Olympics, in a game versus Serbia and Montenegro. Ginóbili led the team in both scoring (19.3 points per game) and assists (3.3 assists per game).
He played with Argentina at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, where his team finished in 4th place. Ginóbili was the flag bearer for Argentina at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, which was held in Beijing, China. At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics basketball tournament, Ginóbili's Argentina defeated Lithuania to win the bronze medal game, although the shooting guard did not play in that match, after sustaining an injury in the tournament's semifinals. In April 2010, Ginóbili announced that he would not participate in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, due to family reasons. He did however compete for the team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where Argentina narrowly missed out on winning the bronze medal, in the bronze medal game versus Russia. He also played at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, where Argentina finished in 8th place.
Ginóbili is a 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), 205 lb (93 kg) left-handed shooting guard who has been deployed either as a sixth man or starter for the Spurs. He has established himself as a reliable and versatile back court presence, and was a relatively late bloomer, entering the NBA at age 25 in a period when entering the NBA as a teenager was very common.
Apart from his up-tempo and aggressive style of play, Ginóbili is known for his clutch play. This is documented by his numerous European league MVP awards, and his performances in San Antonio's championship-winning campaigns. Ginóbili's modus operandi however, causes concerns for some of his opponents. His go-to move is either a 3-pointer or a fierce attack to the basket, while he often lowers his head when driving to the basket to collapse defenses and create shots or passes to his teammates. Although Ginobili was not the originator or the first to bring the move to the NBA, he is credited for popularizing the Euro step in the league.
Ginobili is credited with being a team player, over his personal performance, such as his accepting the Spurs' coaches decision of playing off the bench rather than being a starter. He is also known for his tough to defend passes such as the no-look pass and the pick-and-roll.
He is also willing to draw charges on defense. In 2007, he was even listed by ESPN writer Thomas Neumann at No. 6 on the list of greatest floppers in NBA history. Five years later, Ian Thomsen, a Sports Illustrated columnist, grouped Ginóbili with fellow European league players Anderson Varejão and Vlade Divac as the players who "made [flopping] famous", by exaggerating contact on the court in a manner analogous to diving in soccer games.
Having traversed the major basketball continents in his basketball career, Ginóbili is one of the few players who has enjoyed success under both the physical, one-on-one play of the NBA and the more technical, jump-shooting rule set of FIBA. He is one of only two players in basketball history, along with Bill Bradley, to win the EuroLeague, an Olympic gold medal, and an NBA Championship ring. He is also the first non-U.S. player to win both the NBA championship ring and the Olympic gold medal, and the second Latin American to be selected to play in an NBA All-Star game (after Panama's Rolando Blackman).
In 2007, ESPN sportswriter John Hollinger ranked Ginóbili as the sixth best international player then-active in the NBA, describing the 57th draft pick as "one of the great draft heists of all time", and attributed the trend of NBA teams drafting developing European players to the success of the Argentine. The following year, Ginóbili was named by ESPN as one of the best EuroLeague players to have graced the NBA.