Patricio Garino saw it all in his first professional year from Summer League to the Olympics to the D-League to the Orlando Magic. He looked back on it all.
Patricio Garino seemed to go from the frying pan to the stove for much of his first year as a professional basketball player. The highs seemed to be followed by hard work and a long uphill climb to get to the NBA and achieve his goals.
There was a lot of experience and a lot to do in the meantime.
Orlando Magic fans got introduced to Garino first at Summer League last year. He was an intriguing senior prospect from George Washington who showed a knack for scoring and some strong defensive instincts. Garino was a bit of an unknown on the NBA scene, coming from a mid-major school.
He quickly made an impact. It was clear why he scored 14.1 points per game and hit on 43.0 percent from beyond the arc in leading George Washington to the NIT Final. He thrived as a defender, making instinctual plays. It was clear he played himself into a NBA training camp somewhere.
And that was in just three games. Garino left Orlando last July fairly quickly to join the Argentina National Team. He played in the Olympics, getting to live that lifelong dream and play with some of his childhood heroes like Manu Ginobili and Andres Nocioni.
Then came the cold reality of trying to crack a NBA roster.
Garino spoke highly of his time with the San Antonio Spurs, where he was one of the final cuts in training camp, and his time playing in the D-League with the Austin Spurs. But his NBA dreams were around the corner.
Garino signed with the Magic in early April for the rest of the season. It gave him some time on the court in a NBA regular season game and a dream achieved.
He spoke with George Washington Sports’ Raise High ‘Cast about his year and talked about realizing that dream with the Magic this year:
"“It means everything. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that to happen this year,” Garino said. “For that to happen it was just the cherry on everything. I think it was a reward for everything that I had gone through. I wasn’t expecting it, but I welcomed it with open arms. Obviously this is something that I have been fighting for so many years. My goal when I came to the U.S. was to be closer to the NBA. Knowing that I accomplished that in my first year after college is something that I’m super thankful for.Thinking that I made the NBA, that I put a jersey on with my last name on the back and on the front an organization, it’s something that fills me with pride and happiness. But at the same time it motivates me to keep going and keep fighting to in the future stay there for a long, long time.”"
Garino said his agent called him the day of his final game in the D-League with news of the offer. He advised him to play his game and then they would talk, but they would need to let the Magic know quickly. The answer was obvious.
Of course, and Garino does not dive into this in the podcast, signing that contract proved to open up another can of worms. It was Garino in the infamous whiteboard photo.
But Garino should not face blame for that controversy. His job is to do his best to make an impact on the Magic and stay in the NBA.
Garino will play in Summer League next week. With an unguaranteed contract, he will have to fight for his spot on the roster once again through Summer League and then into training camp. The management group that signed him both last summer and in April are no longer in place.
The odds are long once again for Garino.
But he has overcome them before. He has earned his place at least on the NBA periphery. And he has a leg up on others with his contract status with the Magic entering Summer League.
Still looking back on his first professional year, Garino certainly has a lot to be proud of and some incredible experiences to share.