At 1:00 PM CST on August 27, 2018, San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili was faced with one final task that would complete his 23-year professional career.
Push the enter button which would send out his retirement tweet to the basketball world.
Today, with a wide range of feelings, I’m announcing my retirement from basketball. IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It’s been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams. pic.twitter.com/3MLCUtmd6K
— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) August 27, 2018
https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js“Even though I am very sure about the decision, it’s still awkward. It’s still tough. You are convinced, and you talk to your wife and you know what you’ve got to do, but, my finger shaked a lot before hitting that enter. I’m telling you, it wasn’t an easy decision,” said Ginobili in his final press conference with the San Antonio media, who have been covering his professional career since he arrived in San Antonio during the 2002-03 season.
Ginobili said he treated this past season like it was going to be his last, savoring every moment in games and taking in his final visit to some of the opposing arenas.
“Last season,” said Ginobili of how he approached last season, “mentally my last season. So, every place I went, every situation, I kind of knew it was going to be the last one, but I kind of left the door open just in case.”
Ginobili went on a lengthy vacation this past summer to the Northwest area, exploring Canada with his family. While the door was still slightly open when he returned to begin training for this coming season, he knew when he saw his teammates that he was making the right decision for himself in retiring at age 41.
“I couldn’t see my body going through that kind of grind again. I felt that I had a good season, that I left everything behind both physically and mentally. When I came back here, and I came to work out a little bit and to lift, to bike or whatever, I saw Bryn (Forbes), I saw Dejounte (Murray), I saw some of the guys working out and preparing for the season and I was so far from that. So that’s when I said, for sure this is it. There was a little bit of that door open, but, I closed it pretty quick. I couldn’t see me getting ready for another season.”
Ginobili said when he finally saw Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich after Ginobili returned from vacation, Popovich could see in Ginobili’s face that he wasn’t coming back to continue playing for the team.
“Once I came back I was very convinced and he saw it right away,” said Ginobili. “He respected my decision.”
Ginobili recalled one of the funnier stories when he was trying to decide to retire. He said while his wife and children had no objections to having their dad around more, one of his sons, Nico, did want him to continue playing for one particular reason.
“I don’t want you to retire dad, Nico, what do you mean?” Ginobili recalled of a conversation with his son. “Why? ‘Well the chicken tenders in the family room are awesome.’ I’ll get you some chicken tenders in a different situation, but, that can’t be the reason why I stay.”
Ginobili says initially he and his family will be spending some time in San Antonio and then going to Argentina in a couple of months when summer begins over there.
“I’m going to go home, but later. For a couple of months, I’m going to stay in town and then we’ll figure it out with my family. But, for sure the winter here, summer there, our plan is to go back to Argentina to enjoy some relaxing time when everybody’s in a good mood, not all very windy. We are very excited about that. I haven’t done a summer in Argentina since 98, 97 maybe. So, we miss it, for our family, it’s about time. We have no plans long term.”
While Ginobili is enjoying the freshness of retirement, he said there will be moments when the season begins when he’ll miss playing again.
“I guess eventually I’m going to miss it. Like I said multiple times, it’s been 23 years and I loved doing what I did. For sure I’m going to miss it in different moments. But, at this time, when I see everybody trying to get in shape and lifting for a few hours, and running and all that, I say, phew, I’m liking. So, it’s been great so far and we’ll see when the season starts and I see the guys going out there and competing.”
With the accomplished career Ginobili has completed both in the NBA and internationally, he said he couldn’t key in on his favorite moment. However, he did recall the 2014 NBA Championship as one of the memories he will continue to reference.
“The 2014 championship was outstanding emotionally. I said it many times, but I was carrying and lucky for a year only, because some other people carry that backpack forever, but I was carrying a very heavy load for what happened the year before. So being able to leave that on the side, feel that I was able to help the team to accomplish that goal was huge. So very important moment of my career.”
With Giniobili retiring, the Spurs enter a new phase of the franchise where Popovich won’t have any members of the Big 3 by his side in Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. Ginobili says this will now be a new challenge for Popovich.
“It’s going to be a challenge for him,” said Ginobili. “Seeing what buttons to push. With us, it was easy because he knew us so well.”
Speaking of Parker, Ginobili said he spoke with Parker before Parker made the decision to sign in Charlotte, and while it was a bit surprising, he understands why Parker made that decision.
“Very odd,” said Ginobili of Parker signing elsewhere. “I thought at the end of the day it was going to be fixed in some way. He was going to stick around. But, I understand him and the decision he made. He still feels he can contribute more on the court.”
While Ginobili will still be around San Antonio and at some games from time to time, he was asked to provide some advice for young international players hoping to make it to the NBA. He mentioned two key phrases that represent his 23-year career:
“I’m one of those that believes the playing does the talking.”
“Learn the language and be malleable, be flexible, listen.”