The NBA won’t be the same in the 2018-19 season. On Monday afternoon, Manu Ginobili announced his retirement.
Today, with a wide range of feelings, I'm announcing my retirement from basketball. IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It's been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams. pic.twitter.com/3MLCUtmd6K— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) August 27, 2018
Ginobili was one of the game’s most enjoyable players. He was an innovator, a creator, and an experimenter, who simultaneously played the sport with a child’s joy, and a savant’s mind.
The crafty lefty tried things that no one else had done before, brought the euro step to the NBA, and managed to show something new in every season of his career.
After being drafted with the penultimate pick in the 1999 NBA draft, Ginobili played in Europe for a few years, before joining the San Antonio Spurs for the 2002-03 season. He played each of his 16 years with the Spurs, winning four titles, and never failing to make the playoffs.
Along the way, he developed a special relationship with coach Gregg Popovich, who admitted last year that his coaching style was impacted by Ginobili, saying, “In the beginning he would do some things I thought were unnecessary until that point came where he finally came to me and said, ‘I am Manu, this is what I do.’ I said, ‘OK, you go ahead and try to save one or two of those passes per game and I’ll shut up one or two times when they happen during the game.’ We came to this compromise and it’s been lovey-dovey ever since.”
Ginobili’s retirement marks the total end of the Big Three era in San Antonio, following Tim Duncan’s retirement in 2016, and Tony Parker’s decision to sign with the Charlotte Hornets this offseason. They had one heck of a run.
Despite primarily coming off the bench (he started in only 402 of his 1,275 career games), Ginobili retires as one of the greatest and most influential shooting guards in NBA history.
His final career game came against the Golden State Warriors in this year’s playoffs. After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr - who played for the Spurs in Ginobili’s rookie year - tried to convince the legend to play for another year.
"Keep going, okay? Why not?"— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 25, 2018
Manu Ginobili & Steve Kerr share a special moment after the Warriors' win over the Spurs. pic.twitter.com/fuFrDh3nt5
Unfortunately it didn’t work.
And while the NBA will greatly miss Ginobili’s artistic style and flair, he will, thankfully, live on in YouTube highlight videos everywhere, from his funky euro step, to his step back jumper, to his unexpected dunks, to his legendary bat-swatting. And he’ll always be one of my favorite players.
Thanks for everything, Manu.