Devastated by the Spurs’ loss in the 2013 NBA Finals, Manu Ginobili considered retiring. But he returned to play five more seasons — including winning the 2014 title — in an incredibly fulfilling career.
Now, as increasingly expected, Ginobili is actually calling it quits.
This ends an era in San Antonio. Tim Duncan already retired. Tony Parker left for the Hornets.
It’s not even just moving on from the trio that led the Spurs to the 2003, 2005 and 2007 titles. Only Patty Mills remains from even the 2014 championship team.
Ginobili will head to the Hall of Fame in a few years. He had a wonderful NBA career, making two All-NBA third teams, winning Sixth Man of the Year and earning those four rings. He also dazzled in international play with Argentina.
He was a creative offensive playmaker whose ball-handling, scoring and passing kept defenses off guard. Known as more of a flopper early in his career, Ginobili settled in as a fine team defender. His evolution from scrappy player to respected veteran was incredibly smooth.
The 41-year-old probably could have still helped San Antonio this year. If nothing else, his presence would have been welcomed in the locker room. But the Spurs seemed to be bracing for this, acquiring shooting guards DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli and Lonnie Walker this offseason.
This isn’t losing Kawhi Leonard, a superstar in his prime. But factoring nostalgia, this will be a far tougher goodbye in San Antonio.