Ginobili was truly the “Last Man Standing”
I was thirteen years old, chubby kid, who couldn’t wait to get out from school, to run home, and play Pokémon Gold Version on my Game Boy color. As I tried my best to dodge my homework, and occasionally play “smear the queer” with a couple of friends. Yes, that sounds very horrible in today’s time, but we were kids in junior high, who only had the intention of knocking the crap out of one another, when one of us had the football in our hands. That was the only purpose of the game. Serving hits up to each other, as if we were members of the 85’ Bears defense.
Obviously, such idiotic play at a young age didn’t last very long, because one day I got flipped over so hard while trying to foolishly take a hit, head on (with no pads by the way). Eventually, I had a pissed off mother driving me to the hospital, because I had a broken hand. For weeks at school I got made fun of. Hell, I couldn’t even sharpen my pencil in class–I had to ask, and hope someone would help. So no more tackle football out in the yard, and forget being able to play my Game Boy color with only one hand functioning properly–I started watching more Spurs basketball. I was already introduced to the Spurs tradition as a kid, but my love for Spurs basketball grew even more when I had no distractions.
George Gervin, David Robinson were household names, and Tim Duncan was already underway to super-stardom as well. But it wasn’t until the 2002-03 NBA season when I noticed this 6’7 athletic light-skinned guy from Argentina with long wavy black hair, over throwing passes to his teammates, that would sometimes land in the stands. Manu Ginobili would eventually make that up with his savvy left-handed layups and wicked dunks, that quickly turned Manu into a fan favorite immediately. I know, Manu didn’t enter the court, and automatically go into beast mode, he spent the early part of his rookie season injured, and serving as a backup to veteran guard Steve Smith. After winning his first of many championships with the Spurs, Manu instantly became a household name for San Antonio.
It wasn’t long until Ginobili was featured regularly in Greg Poppovich’s lineup, forming an unforgettable alliance, “The Big 3” with Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker, as they would go on to win four championships together. Eventually with Duncan retiring in 2016, and Parker signing with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, retirement was the final call for Ginobili. This coming after the Spurs made the decision to ultimately trade Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors. I think personally speaking for the locals here in San Antonio, we grew onto Manu emotionally, physically, and intimately. To the point where he became a regular grabbing coffee at local coffee shops here in town like Halcyon, and hanging out with the fans, or even spotting him at the Palladium, watching the latest flicks at the theater.
The 41 year-old, will hang it up as a guy who was the No. 57 overall pick in the 1999 draft, who fought and clawed his way to the top as a two-time NBA All-Star, the 2007-08 Sixth Man Of The Year, four-time NBA champ, 2004 Olympic champion, won 135 playoff games with coach Pop, filmed cheesy H-E-B commercials locally, and oh, by the way, who could ever forget that classic moment in 2009 when he swatted down a bat that was harassing players on the court? There’s no doubt the next step for Manu is the HOF.
So one last time, from going to games at the old SBC Global Center and yelling on the top of my lungs “go for three” every time he threw up a three-ball, watching his bald spot grow every year, and singing “Ole’ ole’ ole’ ole’, Manu, Manu, Manu, Manu” during his final appearances as a Spur. Thanks, for all the ever lasting memories, of being able to watch you be part of a dynasty in my lifetime, grandpa juice.