The Spurs remove Manu’s shirt with all the honors and Popovich says: “Without him there would have been no title”
Manu Ginóbili, in an exciting act of recognition on the Spurs’ court, reaped what he sowed during the 16 seasons in which he distinguished himself as one of the team’s icons. In it he formed a stellar trio with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker , won four titles (2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014) and was twice All Star (2011 and 2015). And this Thursday, on a memorable night, he received the love of the fans that filled the ATT Center of San Antonio. The Spurs paid tribute to the player from Bahía Blanca (Argentina) and, after the game they won against the Cleveland Cavaliers (116-110), they withdrew their shirt with the number 20.
He dressed that number 20 since he came to the NBA in 2002, when he was 25 years old and had recently won the Euroleague with Kinder Bologna, until he played his last game, on April 24, 2018. He was honored by the fans’ interest. Spurs and the entire NBA. He was a very dear player. It marked a time. He was able to enhance the value of those who do not play in the starting quintet. He won the Best Sixth Man award in 2008. He played 1,057 games in the regular season with the Spurs, only 349 as a starter, in addition to 218 games in the playoffs.
“He will always be a legend here,” said his former teammate Tony Parker. The French base, microphone in hand and from the center of the court, proclaimed: “There is no player like you. I would not be the player that I am if I had not had you as a partner. You are very generous. No other star would accept to leave the bench without protesting. You put your ego behind everything. It was an honor to play with you. ”
His team-mate Fabricio Oberto spoke: “For me the most important thing is how great he is as a person and as a friend. Although you always want to win everything you play and sometimes it becomes difficult to be your friend. Thanks for making me better and thank you for making us better! ”
It was Gregg Popovich’s turn. The Spurs coach recalled the Euroleague that Manu won when he was coached by Ettore Messina in Italy and said that the Argentine team with which Ginobili won the Olympic goldHe is one of the best teams he has ever seen. He continued: “Manu put the most incredible triples. I had to stop asking him: ‘Manu, why are you doing these things?’ I realized that he did not need me to give him any instructions. He did things that allowed us to win. Yes, we had a good team, but without Manu there would have been no title. He had that desire to win. He was a born competitor. He was intrepid and wild, one of the best companions one could have and with him you could talk about politics, religion, everything … And one of the most important things that occurred in this franchise was when he agreed to leave from the bench . That made us better, more dangerous, and the team deeper. ”
Tim Duncan, another legendary of the Spurs, with whom he formed throughout his career, from 1997 to 2016, closed: “It was very fun to play with you and see Popovich complain about what you did. It has been incredible to share my career with you. ” Then a video of tribute to the Argentine 20 was projected on the giant screen of the ATT Center.
Ginobili, accompanied by his wife Manny Oroño and their three children, thanked the audience for the warmth and the words of their colleagues and their coach. In his long speech he also thanked his entire family for their support throughout their careers. And among other things, he said: “This was not what was supposed to happen to me in my life. I enjoyed being part of this team. We had something very special. ” The former Spurs player, 41, addressed Popovich: “You are a sensitive, generous, intelligent person, a person madness, and you mean a lot to me. Many of the things I’ve learned from you have nothing to do with basketball, they go beyond the game. ”
During his 16 seasons in the Spurs, always under the orders of Gregg Popovich, Ginobili averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals and a total in this section of 1,392, which more in the history of the Spurs, as in the total of triples: 1,495. It is also the fourth highest scorer in the history of the franchise with 14,043 points and fifth in rebounds with 3,697. He is the player who has scored more points as a substitute in the history of the Spurs with 8,278.
Manu is the ninth player to whom the Spurs remove their shirt. Formerly Johnny Moore (00), Avery Johnson (6), Bruce Bowen (12), James Silas (13), Tim Duncan (21), Sean Elliott (32), George Gervin (44) and David Robinson ( fifty).
He chose the 20 because he discarded doing it with the 6 because that number had been used by Avery Johnson, champion in 1999, and it was already anticipated that he would retire, since the 10th, another number he thought of, was already used by Speedy Claxton. “The 20 was good for me and that’s why I chose it,” he said.
Ginóbili is the only one who has managed to win an Olympic gold medal (Athens 2004), a Euroleague (2001) and at least one NBA title. And along with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and LeBron James, are the only ones who have achieved the Olympic gold and ring in the same season. The Argentine Confederation already retired the Albiceleste with the number 5 used by Manu during his long career until he left the national team after the Rio Games in 2016.
At the ceremony at the ATT Center in San Antonio also participated former partners in the Argentine team, Scola, Nocioni, Prigioni, Montecchia, Pepe Sanchez, Gabriel Fernandez and Montecchia, among others, components of the golden generation that won the Olympic gold in 2004 , the silver in the 2002 World Cup, the Olympic bronze in 2008 and the gold in the FIBA America 2001 and 2011. Before starting the game against Cleveland, the singer Michelle Leclerq played the Argentine anthem from the center of the court. The party was complete.