The San Antonio Spurs may be closing the book on another era after being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
39-year-old Manu Ginobili may have played his final game in the NBA, his contract expiring this summer. If it was his goodbye, he was granted a chance to say goodbye on his own home floor in San Antonio to the roar of a crowd that’s always appreciated his basketball brilliance.
Ginobili was given a rousing standing ovation in San Antonio as the final minutes ticked away on his season, fans chanting “Manu!” to show the four-time champion the respect he deserved after spending 15 years as the Spurs’ versatile swingman.
Should Manu return for another run with the Spurs, he’d breach the age of 40 the next time he steps onto an NBA court. That’s a lot to consider for Ginobili, who admitted he’s “still overwhelmed” as he thanked everyone for the Game 4 sendoff:
The Spurs will have to monitor their future with Ginobili closely. They’re tight on salary cap space and will need to know whether Ginobili needs to partition a slot for Manu potentially returning. Following Game 4 he sounded very unsure if that was his final game.
“For moments I felt like I didn’t [feel good], in the Memphis series, this series I played better. I felt more energetic, more needed, more useful to the team so I ended up feeling better than the way it started. But I do feel like I can still play.
“That’s not what’s going to make me retire or not. It’s about how I feel, if I want to go through all that again. It felt like they wanted me to retire, like they were giving me a sort of celebration night. And of course I’m getting closer and closer, that’s no secret for sure,” Manu said.
Ginobili has been in this position for years, and generally his response is always the same. He wants to take his time before saying anything hasty. Retirement isn’t something anyone should be rushed into, and Manu sounds like he still needs time to decide.
“I always said that I wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, four weeks, whatever. Then I’ll sit with my wife and see how it feels. Whatever I decide to do, I’ll be a happy camper. I have two truly wonderful options.
“One is to keep playing in this league at this age, enjoying every day playing the sport I still love. The other one is stay at home, be a dad, travel more and enjoy my whole family,” Ginobili said.
Ginobili has been one of the greats, making a career as the Spurs’ versatile point forward and one of the most decorated international basketball players of all-time.