Praise Popovich, for Manu is coming back. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski–the Oracle of the NBA–reported that Ginóbili and the Spurs are close to a deal that will bring back the most decorated Latino player of all time for at least one more season.
Despite posting his worst numbers ever–and despite the Spurs’ season ending in a sweep by the eventual champions from Golden State–Manu still lit up the league, as he has for his entire 15-year career. He had one of the highlights of the post-season, blocking James Harden’s potential game-winning 3-pointer in Game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals. He may not be the legendary sixth-man and lefty whirlwind that he was in his youth, but the soon-to-be-40-year-old Ginóbili can still provide support on and off the court for a Spurs team that will try to get over the Warriors hump next season.
While the scenes from the last playoff game in San Antonio in the 2016-2017 could have served as a perfect storybook ending for Manu–the Spurs fanatics warmly cheered him off the court with “one more year!” chants–it would have felt wrong to have the Argentinian magician retire without one more deep post-season run.
The Spurs’ vaunted Big Three era may have ended officially when Tim Duncan retired last summer, but Manu was always the beating heart of those teams that won 4 NBA championships from 2003 to 2014. His retirement, whether it comes next summer or the one after or maybe never, will signal the end of the scrappy 2000s, where international players began to truly take the Association by storm, and where one of the most unorthodox stars of all time shimmied, shook, and Eurostepped his way into basketball lore.
One thing everyone can agree on, regardless of how you feel about the Spurs’ hyper-efficient brand of dynastic dominance? Manu should keep writing his fantastic blog next season.