The round mound of octaves in former Rocket and explosive TNT announcer Charles Barkley’s big mouth just got higher and higher as number 20 for the San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili pulled off one of his signature moves on the baseline back in his day (that after this, time and time again still seemed just as unbelievable well into “this is 40” father time) and kept rising to the holy cup like he was never going to come down. And in some ways like sneakers off the squeaky clean polished parquet, this humble hardwood warrior in a band of Wild West brothers never has.
And now the exalted Argentinian Emmanuel a legend in Texas, South America and the gold of the Olympics world stage won’t. As after retiring to the Alamo, the San Antonio Spurs did the same with his number 20 jersey. Sending it in the hoop heavens with Icemen and Admirals and his good friend Tim. Pride of place belonging with the same banners he helped raise as one third of the most dominant and now historical franchise of new millennium, modern times in storied Celtic and Lakers lore NBA history.
In the same week the Miami Heat honoured the one underrated member of their double-up, back-to-back Voltron big-three. Showing Chris Bosh’s number one had no ceiling by retiring it to similar arena rafters. The Spurs made sure they clicked the same selection for Manu next to the legendary recent memory likes of hero over hurt Sean Elliott and defensive standard Bruce Bowen. And during a halftime ceremony of understated, professional, beauty of the game poignancy like the player himself, Coach Greg Popovich made it clear there would be no championships without a little bit of Gin. And the San An faithful were greeted to a reunion that felt so good as before the King, Flash and Chris, the all international, original big-three after Big Dog’s Bucks of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili sat together to show crowds like his Argentina international greats roundtable what real legends and teammates look like.
Oh hai Kawhi!
Tim Duncan even had jokes, cracking the crowd up as he relaxed into retirement with long hair, don’t care feeling, at a greater length than his infamous fingernails in his Rookie campaign. Now you know how he clawed away to his first ring as he clutched the championship trophy. Even Parker managed to get away from the buzz of his commitments to the
The knees may have got weaker and the hair thinner (I feel your pain Manu. But you suit the bald identity. Best rocking the receding look since Clyde Drexler (sorry ‘Bron) who we look back on fondly like we do our hairlines) but his legend is concrete certification strong and record book he helped write and rewrite thick. Ginobili truly changed the game and opened basketballs borders in the NBA to a whole new Mr. International level. From the power move that made Chuck bark. To blocking the most offensive force this league has seen since the 100
“Gracias Manu, por todo.”