After a couple of months of deliberation, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili today announced his retirement.
In a tweet sent out this evening, Ginobili said; “Today, with a wide range of feelings, I’m announcing my retirement from basketball.” Ginobili had been working out with the Spurs in the offseason, testing his body to see if he would want and be able to play to play one final season with the team.
Now, it is clear that he won’t.
Ginobili is calling time on a professional playing career that goes back 23 years, the last 16 of which have been spent in the NBA with the Spurs.
Drafted with the penultimate pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili’s success as a player predated his time in the NBA; he won a Euroleague title in 2001 with Kinder Bologna, leading the Finals in scoring along the way and being named Finals MVP, and also won consecutive Italian League MVP titles in 2001 and 2002, before leaving to join the NBA.
Manu also had plenty of success on the international level, too. He was the leader of the Argentina team that won the silver medal in the World Championships back in 2002, and was the leading scorer on the subsequent 2004 Olympic team that beat the United States in the semi-finals, went on to win the gold medal, and ended the American dominance of the international game.
It was in San Antonio, though, where he had his greatest success. The trio of Manu, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan were the foundations of a dynastic run for the Spurs that featured a 14 consecutive playoff-season run that continues to this day, that featured four NBA Championship wins in that time.
During this reign, the Spurs were venerated for their consistent success, and about how they were always able to find great players and great value to keep the title window open. Of no one was that more true than Ginobili, a lowly #57 pick out of the Italian second division who now, after 1,275 NBA games, two All-Star appearances, one Sixth Man of the Year award and two spots on the NBA’s third team, may be headed to the Hall of Fame.
Today, with Manu’s retirement, coupled with Parker’s highly unexpected decision to sign with the Charlotte Hornets earlier this summer and Duncan’s retirement back in 2016, all three of those players are no longer with the team.
Although the Spurs were hoping to hear that Ginobili had one more go-around left within him this upcoming season, they had nevertheless planned for the eventuality that he did not return.
This summer, they have acquired All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan from the Toronto Raptors as a part of the Kawhi Leonard trade, and signed Marco Belinelli from the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency to compete for a spot in the wing rotation. They also re-signed reserve shooter, Bryn Forbes, so as to be well covered for options regardless of what Ginobili does.
Ultimately, knowing that Ginobili (who turned 41 last month) was uncertain of his own future, the Spurs took some steps to determine their own. The playoff streak is still intact, but now it will have to continue without both parts of the great back court that for so long made it work. It is, truly, the end of an era.