It sits right on the Plaza 1 de Marzo 1948 in the Saavedra neighborhood, and experiences a lot of basketball traffic. One reason might be that the court features a huge mural of none other than Manu Ginobili created by a fine arts student of Universidad Nacional de las Artes and named Rodrigo Ojeda. For Ojeda, a native of Argentina, this project was worth much more than just exposure. “I played basketball for 12 years in a club so that day was unique and unforgettable, two passions merged in a single moment.” says the native Argentinian to Courts of the World about the courts unveiling in 2018.
“El Contusione” is one of the most decorated Argentinian basketball players of all time, winning a total of 4 NBA Championships, an Olympic gold medal, and 1 EuroLeague Championship. Ginobili has proven that he belongs among the greats not only in the NBA or Argentina, but in the world. This one of the reasons that Ojeda was so surprised that Manu would actually be there to pose for it.
The mural in total took 3 days to complete, and was done using spray paint. When the day finally came though when he finished, he was relieved at how approachable and how young Manu looked. “I imagined someone older and I swear I don’t remember much else, but I did teach him how to use the spray paint!” he remembered happily.
The park was not always home to basketball players though, as a few years prior to Nike choosing this location, the park in the Saavedra neighborhood decided to replace the basketball court with soccer goals. Soccer is the most popular sport in Argentina so it didn’t seem like a crazy thing, but it still did not sit right. The hoopers in the local community were very upset and, they eventually had to petition for the government to reinstate the baskets. Although it took time, the ball players came out victorious, and this location was chosen by Nike 3 years later to immortalize on of the greatest basketball players in the countries history.
This mural and park was huge for everyone involved, as Ojeda was honored to be chosen by Nike to paint the piece, and the community in Buenos Aires was pleased a great renovation to a community staple. Not only did Nike boost their facility with equipment, but also boosted the court’s popularity, making it a for sure must hoop court in the world.
All photos by Rodrigo Ojeda. You can follow him on Instagram at road.arg.