Last week, Argentinian icon Manu Ginobili – the most decorated Latino baloncesista in NBA history – announced that he would return for another campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. His announcement came after an excess of riches for the Spurs during the league’s July free-agent bonanza, which saw fellow All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and David West agree to join Ginobili in San Antonio, along with returning starters Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green.
Manu broke the news via twitter and elaborated on his decision in a column written for Argentina’s largest newspaper, La Nacion.
“The fire is still burning,” wrote Ginobili. “I want to enjoy it. I want to live it. That’s all we have in life. I don’t want to miss it. Now, with all those new talents that we incorporated, these players that can change the game while keeping our traditions at the same time, I know we can still achieve a lot.”
Manu’s fire has fueled him through fifteen seasons of professional basketball, capturing four NBA titles with the Spurs, and a Euroleague crown with Kinder Bologna. He is only the second player, along with former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, to pair his championship rings with an Olympic gold medal.
During his prime with the Spurs, Ginobili exhibited a reckless determination on the hardwood that selflessly complemented the games of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, winning over fans from South Texas to South America. In San Antonio, he is perhaps the most beloved Spur, memorably addressing championship parade crowds in his native tongue to the loudest ovations.
“The older you get, the more you know about the time you have left,” Ginobili wrote. “I know I want to have fun, to treasure those moments, and at the same time, I want to win. If you win, you have more fun. That’s my mind. Soon I will be 38, and I know every new season can be my last one. I know I don’t have much longer, but I don’t think about that when I play.”
Ginobili hinted in his column that yet another season in San Antonio is still a future possibility, albeit far fetched. His latest contract with the Spurs is reportedly for $5.7 million over two years, with a player’s option for the second year. Although his impact on the court has seemingly diminished with age, Ginobili’s competitive drive, deft passing, and unique ability to make plays will surely benefit the Spurs as they seek a return to the NBA Finals.
“I feel flattered that people are happy to know that I will continue playing,” revealed Manu in La Nacion. “It helps me find new challenges. You don’t want to disappoint anyone. Because all that also implies a responsibility, even if it’s not your priority. I want to do things right.”