Manu Ginobili is confident he can still cut it in the NBA but says he needs to decide whether he wants to go through another season after his potential retirement overshadowed the San Antonio Spurs’ playoff exit to the Golden State Warriors.
The 39-year-old has won four NBA titles with the Spurs as well as an Olympic gold medal with Argentina in a glittering career.
With Ginobili completing his 15th season in the NBA, there has predictably been conjecture over whether this will be his final campaign.
And he was serenaded by the cheers of the Spurs fans throughout Monday’s 129-115 loss to the Warriors, who claimed a 4-0 series win to advance to the NBA Finals, before receiving a rapturous send-off as he exited the court.
Speaking about his reception at a media conference, Ginobili told reporters: “It was kind of emotional and overwhelming. Receiving that kind of love, appreciation, respect, is something that we all appreciate, we all look for. When it happens in a situation like that and you receive all that without expecting it, it shakes your world a little bit, it was great.”
Asked if he wanted to carry on, Ginobili replied: “For moments I felt like I didn’t, [but] this series I played better, I felt more energetic, more useful to the team. I ended feeling better than the way I started.
“I do feel like I can still play, but that’s not what’s going to make me retire or not, it’s about how I feel, if I want to go through all that again.
“It felt like they [the fans] wanted me to retire, like they were giving me a celebration night. I always said that I wanted to let it sink in for three weeks. Whatever I decide to do I’ll be a happy camper.”
Warriors star Steph Curry paused in-between free throws to allow Ginobili to take in the adulation of the Spurs fans as he was removed from the game by Gregg Popovich.
Curry, who applauded Ginobili as he left the court, said of the gesture: “I’m a Manu Ginobili fan and when you assess the moment, obviously you don’t know what’s in his future, but the crowd’s going crazy for him and I tried to do my best to give him that moment and just take it all in, because you could tell how much he’s meant to this organisation, to this city.
“He’s obviously a true champion. The way that he plays the game, you have no choice but to just love watching him play. He’s given a lot to the game, so that was just a cool moment for him … and I had to concentrate on the free-throw too!”