We witness the end of an era. Tim Duncan retired two years ago, Tony Parker was traded to the Hornets this offseason, and now, Manu Ginobili announces his retirement from the NBA.
The former 57th pick rose through the Spurs organization extremely quickly, and had a glorious career in the NBA – 4 Championships, 2 All-Star selections, 2008 Sixth Man of the Year, and various all-NBA selections, to add on to his international accolades. His decision to retire brings a historic 16-year run with the Spurs to an end, a team, that in his presence, never missed the playoffs, and never won less than 47 games.
Manu was one of the most underrated passers to ever play in the league, perhaps one of the most underrated players as a whole. Most of Manu’s magic will be lost to history, but his legacy will live on.
Manu perfected the euro step that Harden and Westbrook dominate today. He lives on in the deception of Chris Paul, in Wade’s lightning quick change of direction. Manu had so many career highlights, it’s impossible to pick one to talk about. The most interesting one was probably against the Kings, when a bat flew on to the court, and stopped the game. Manu, being Manu, anticipated its flight path, and knocked it straight out of the air – on Halloween of all nights.
Manu has had many amazing moments on the court, some of them unforgettable. One such instance was his monster slam over Yao Ming, intercepting a loose ball, and rushing straight at the 7"6 giant, throwing down a massive two-handed dunk.
Personally, my favorite memory of Manu has to be his block on Harden. With 10 seconds left in OT, Game 5 against the Rockets, Harden created a little space by getting past Ginobili, and went for a three-point attempt 25 feet out. The rest is history.
"I knew where his shot releases from, and he went by me. So I tried to bother him as much as I could, and I saw I found myself very close to the ball. So I went for it."
With Kawhi, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, all gone, it truly is the end of a magical run for the Spurs franchise. Manu was one of the few players who didn’t play for the stats, he played because he loved the sport, and because he wanted his team to win.
An excellent role model, he always pushed basketball to its boundaries – never breaking the rules, but always playing unorthodoxly – mastering awkward angles, getting past 7-footers, all with this grace about him. He took risks that no one else would, and ventured where others wouldn’t. Manu might have retired, but he will live on forever in the nuances of basketball. Manu Ginobili, thank you for a legendary 16 years. You will be missed.Published 29 Oct 2018, 23:41 IST