The 2014 Spurs — which won 62 regular season games, then got revenge on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s fifth title — played arguably the most beautiful ball-movement, sharply-executed basketball the league has ever seen. By the end of that season, the Spurs were a force of athleticism and high IQ players who just shredded opponents.
With the door officially being closed on San Antonio’s “big three” era after the retirement of Manu Ginobili, that is one team worth looking back on with pride. Ginobili does. He met with the media this weekend in San Antonio and was asked about the greatest highlight of his Hall of Fame career, and it was that team — and how it responded to the crushing loss to the Heat the season before in the Finals — that he talked about. Via ESPN:
“I was carrying a very heavy load in my bag for what happened the year before,” Ginobili said. “Being able to leave that aside, feel that I helped the team to accomplish that goal, was huge. A very important moment of my career. We did it with a great team, a team that played great in a fun way, altruistically. And I was already older. When I got here and we won the first championship, I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t know what was going on, how hard it was. At 37, and after a couple of frustrating moments where we were very close, that was very fulfilling and a big joy.”
Watching Ginobili play was a joy. Talking to him as a media member was a joy, he was always gracious. The league will not be quite the same without him.