'Hard to explain everything I felt:' Manu Ginobili shares insight into retirement

Ginobili said he knew last season would be his final one in NBA

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO – Manu Ginobili shed some insight into his decision to retire after 16 seasons with the Spurs and 23 seasons overall in professional basketball in a column he wrote for La Nacion that was posted Tuesday morning. 

The column in the Argentine newspaper is written entirely in Spanish and details Ginobili’s thought process leading into his decision.

In the column, Ginobili said he knew in his mind that last season would be his final one so the decision was not one done in haste.

However, Ginobili did not want to make any type announcement because he did not want to limit his options and leave the door open for any doubts that he had that he could return.   

He wrote that he went through the same process he had in previous offseasons. As he noted on social media, Ginobili had a great time traveling with his wife and children this summer, but stayed in contact with head coach Gregg Popovich.

When he returned to San Antonio after his trip to Canada, Ginobili got back into the gym to determine if the desire was there to go through another season.

In Ginobili’s words, he said the opposite happened. He saw the younger players on the Spurs roster working out and training, and said his body was still feeling some effects of the previous two seasons so that essentially confirmed what he already knew: It was time to call it a professional career. 

Ginobili waited for Popovich to return from his trip to Europe and wrote that Popovich was the first person to know and the first person he spoke to outside of his wife, Marianela.

Ginobili tweeted the news to the world on Monday, but it was not easy as he detailed in the column. (This has been translated from Spanish to English.)

“You can not imagine the tension I had in front of the computer before pressing, ‘Enter.’ I'm not sure why, since I was convinced of what I had to do and that it was the right decision, but it was very crazy. I am convinced and happy with the step I took. It's hard to explain everything I felt. Immediately afterwards I experienced a great relief and thought that I was going to be able to disconnect, but the messages began to arrive and I could not help it. Some really moved me.”

In the column, Ginobili thanked the numerous people, but above all, his wife Marianela, who stood by his side through all the wins, losses, long seasons, playoff runs, international games, nights away from home and his sons. 

Ginobili made it clear this was not the last time people would see him in San Antonio as his children have already started school. He plans to be around the team, Popovich and will help with anything needed.

Ginobili said he leaves with no regrets and knew a few years this day was coming.

“I gave myself the pleasure in the last three years of playing as one would like to do with his friends, without feeling the pressure of being exclusively responsible for what might happen, with the feeling of 'I already gave everything I could.’  I played because I liked doing it, for my respect and appreciation of the place I was.”

As he reflected on his career, Ginobili could not help, but look back on the beginning. He said he would not be the player he was without his experience overseas and his time with the Argentinian national team.

“Everything was special in my career because it is not common to spend as much time in a team (where) a handful of players share with almost 20 years together, with Spurs and the Golden Generation. I was fortunate to be part of two groups that have had an incredible relevance in the sport and in all cases I found a human quality impossible to match. Having that is without a doubt amazing.”

Ginobili thanked Spurs fans in the column for embracing him from day one.

“I understand that my Latin origins and my Spanish should have helped, which contributed to my bond with the people and that allowed me a unique connection for 16 years, with special affection and unconditional support.” 

Ginobili’s second career begins now with more time to spend with his family, travel and enjoy his life after basketball.

“In short, I will enjoy having time available, because it is what everyone pursues and I now have it at 41 years old. Thank you all for supporting me on this long journey.”

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