Speaking to the media this week for the first time since his retirement announcement, Manu Ginobili confirmed that last season was his final year with the San Antonio Spurs as a player as well as his final season in the NBA.
His retirement brings an end to a fantastic 16 season career in the league as one of the most decorated international players in basketball history after being a four-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist for Argentina.
Ginobili stated during a press conference with the media, via ESPN, that announcing his retirement was a tough decision.
He said: "I'm telling you, it wasn't an easy decision in the sense that after so many years, 23 seasons of doing this, it was kind of hard to put the last nail in that coffin.
"It was an intense situation that was a little bit sensitive. So I wanted to wait a couple weeks before facing you and responding to your questions."
He revealed that there was one specific moment when he returned to the Spurs practice facility that confirmed to him that he wasn’t going to come back to play in the 2018-19 season.
Ginobili said: "I took last season mentally as my last season. So every place I went, every situation, I kind of knew it was going to be the last one. But I left the door open, just in case. Slowly, the door started to close more.
"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 I had in that previous season both physically and mentally.
"When I came back here and I came to work out a little bit, to lift, 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.
"That's when I said, 'For sure, this is it.' There was a little bit of that door opened, but it closed pretty quick. I couldn't see me getting ready for another 82-game season, 65 in my case."
Ginobili added that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich tried to change his mind but only for a moment.
He said: “He briefly tried to convince me. He saw me very convinced. I guess he saw it right away. He respected my decision, of course, and we had a great talk.”
Manu played 1,057 regular season contests and 218 playoff games with the Spurs, and he ranks in the team's top five all-time in games, points (14,043), assists (4,001) and steals (1,392).
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