Manu Ginobili, one of basketball’s pioneers, is leaving the sport he not only gave so much to, but did so in a one-of-a-kind way.
One of basketball’s pioneers is leaving the sport he not only gave so much to, but did so in a one-of-a-kind way.
Manu Ginobili announced his retirement on Monday, bringing a close to a stellar career that spanned 23 years and three different continents.
The Argentine’s exit also closes the chapter on the San Antonio Spurs dynasty, of which Ginobili was the last remaining relic other than head coach Gregg Popovich.
While Tim Duncan was the backbone of the dynasty, Ginobili was the player who added the missing elements that gave the Spurs the spice they needed – creativity, fearlessness and a unique, incomparable style of play.
His ability to do practically everything on a basketball court, and do it in a way that exuded joy and revealed his genius, made him one of the most fascinating players to watch in the league. He was hardly ever conventional, providing a touch of magic and unpredictability to the Spurs’ machine-like perfection.
The Eurostep, for example, is a move Ginobili revolutionised, paving the way for stars to adapt and integrate it into their arsenal.
His no-look passes, dance-like footwork and knack for dazzling were juxtaposed with an insatiable desire to win, which saw Ginobili sacrifice more than anyone during the Spurs’ run for the chance to raise banners to the rafters.
His career averages of 13.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds hardly suggest a Hall of Fame career, but Ginobili’s brilliance was never told through his numbers. He willingly accepted a sixth man, coming off the bench in 708 of the 1,057 games he played in, despite possessing all the talent of a starter.
Ginobili was everything San Antonio needed him to be, while at the same time being everything they didn’t always know they needed.
And that was just in his NBA career. His resume, which is headlined by four NBA titles, also features a EuroLeague crown, EuroLeague Finals MVP, Italian League championship, Italian Cup MVP and a gold medal won at Athens in 2004.
Basketball will miss Ginobili, not just for what he accomplished, but because there will never be another one like him.