The San Antonio Spurs retired the jersey of guard Manu Ginobili in a ceremony that recognized both his contribution to the Spurs and his Argentinian heritage.
Former teammates returned to San Antonio to take part in the emotional ceremony Thursday night at AT&T Center, where a full house had to wait until 25 minutes after the Spurs 116-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to celebrate Ginobili. Fans had lined up outside the arena more than four hours before game time to make sure they didn’t miss a minute of the festivities.
Former longtime teammates Tony Parker and Tim Duncan spoke, as did coach Gregg Popovich and Fabricio Oberto, a fellow Argentinian who was a Spurs teammate from 2005-09.
“I’m telling you, I’m one of the lucky ones,” Ginobili, 41, said during his words to the crowd. “I’ve been dealt amazing cards. I just had to play them OK. That was all I had to do.”
Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan wore Nikes in the color of Argentina’s flag - light blue with a gold swoosh - during the game, and the country’s national anthem also was played. At halftime, seven of Ginobili’s former teammates from Argentina’s national team took part in a roundtable discussion about his career.
“I would not be the player I became without you being my teammate,” Parker told Ginobili during the ceremony. “You were such an inspiration to me every day that it was just contagious. You helped me become a better player just playing with you.”
In 16 seasons with the Spurs before retiring last summer, Ginobili captured four NBA championships (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) while posting a career winning percentage of .721 (762-295). According to the Spurs, that is the best winning percentage in NBA history among players who have been in at least 1,000 games.
Selected by San Antonio with the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili appeared in 1,057 career games, averaging 13.3 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.32 steals in 25.4 minutes. He is the Spurs all-time leader in three-pointers made (1,495) and steals (1,392).
He is credited with introducing the Eurostep to the NBA and won an Olympic gold medal in 2004 and a bronze in 2008, representing Argentina.
—Field Level Media