The other night, Manu Ginobili announced his retirement. It’s going to be very odd to watch a San Antonio Spurs game without seeing him out there. Whether he was running the offense or coming off the bench to be the team’s spark plug, he was money. Every. Single. Night.
Manu played the first 7 years of pro basketball overseas, winning the Euro League MVP one year. Like most players outside of the USA, the dream was to play in the NBA. He joined the Spurs for the 2002-03 season, pairing him up with David Robinson who was in his final season. Over the next 16 seasons, Ginobili and the Spurs won 4 NBA Championships. This was a team that boasted players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and, for the last few seasons, Kawhi Leonard. Through it all, you always had a sense that Ginobili was the glue that held this team together; the extra something that helped them elevate to the next level. He hustled on every single play, he hit 3-pointers, he chased down rebounds, and he was a pesky defender. San Antonio will miss him. The NBA will miss him.
In his 16 NBA seasons, Manu Ginobili played in 1,057 games, averaging 25.4 minutes per game. He averaged 13.3 PPG, 3.5 boards, 3.8 assists, and 1.3 steals. Solid numbers, but the numbers alone don’t really paint the complete picture of the player he was. He was so much bigger than the stat line, so much bigger than anything you could see in a simple box score. You had to watch the game. Only then could you realize how important he was to his team. Only then could you grasp his greatness. I know I’m not alone in saying that I will truly miss seeing him on the court.
When a player of his stature retires, the conversations always head towards Hall of Fame consideration. In my mind, there’s no doubt that Manu Ginobili belongs in the Hall alongside the other greats that have played the game. I believe that the voters will feel the same. When you watched him play, you knew you were seeing a special player. The Hall awaits.