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Thank you, Manu. What a run.

August 31, 2018

Manu Ginobili played basketball with such electricity and passion that his championship pedigree is almost secondary.

Not that being a champion doesn’t matter. It sure does. Ginobili was an integral part of four of the Spurs’ five NBA championships. He led his native Argentina to the gold medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics. He was an All-Star who will soon be in the Hall of Fame.

But on the court, he was a magical blur. With the ball in his hands, anything was possible. He was electric, kinetic, chaotic and frenzied. A leaping, bursting blaze. No one knew what might come next with Manu. A stunning dunk. A crisp no-look pass. The sudden swatting of bat. The ball in the stands. All in the game.

Ginobili played basketball with a sense of flow and joy, and in doing so, he and former Spurs point guard Tony Parker redefined San Antonio Spurs basketball. The team evolved from a more traditional low-post game centered around legends David Robinson and Tim Duncan into one defined by its swift-passing and ball movement. Thanks to Ginobili, Spurs basketball was not boring. It was beautiful because it was selfless.

And Ginobili was selfless. Not just in style of play, risking injury on the court. But in his willingness to come off the bench for the greater good of the team. He could have demanded to start, or asked to play elsewhere so he could score more points or earn more individual accolades. This is a future Hall of Famer. But he came off the bench, and the team thrived.

When Ginobili was drafted in 1999 in the second round, 57th overall, no one imagined 16 wondrous seasons in San Antonio. But there has never been a baller quite like Ginobili. Thank you, Manu, for the memories and the magic.

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