While much of the attention on the San Antonio Spurs playoff exit at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder centered on Tim Duncan’s possible final professional game, another Hall of Famer potentially walked away from the NBA last night. After four NBA championships, two All-Star nods, and a Sixth Man of the Year award, Manu Ginobili could very well have played his last game as a Spur.
“Of course, it’s been an amazing run,” Ginobili told reporters following the loss to the Thunder. “We all enjoy playing with each other. I’m so proud of having played with those guys for so many years and winning so many games, and even playing with the new guys. If there’s a reason why you always want to come back and keep being part of this, [it’s] because of the amazing chemistry, the good times and the good people that you play with and spend time with. It’s not always about winning a game or winning a championship. But you learn from losses, and it’s important to enjoy every day. Being a part of this team, I’m very proud of it, even if sometimes it doesn’t go our way.”
Although Ginobili offered no definitive answer on his NBA future in the wake of the defeat, earlier this season he committed to representing Argentina at the Olympic Games in Rio. Ginobili has emphasized the importance of his national team throughout his tenure with the Spurs, so bowing out via the grandest stage in sports, on his home continent, seems rather appropriate.
With a player option for next season valued at $2.9 million, it makes complete sense for Ginobili to take some time before deciding on his NBA retirement. The crafty veteran was a key contributor for the Spurs this season, before succumbing to a gruesome testicular injury. To his credit, Ginobili eventually recovered, exhibiting the same reckless abandon that defines his game.
If Ginobili decides to hang up his sneakers, he’ll walk away from the NBA as one of its greatest competitors. He is easily the most accomplished Latino to lace them up, with an undeniable championship pedigree. If San Antonio is indeed in the rearview mirror for Manu, Rio and additional Olympic glory await this summer.