I was preparing to write something else today, but I made the mistake of checking Twitter. Once I saw this short video of Manu Ginobili‘s extra passes, I had to stop from watching it 26 times and share it with you.
Manu Ginobili "One More" Passes pic.twitter.com/wohcVytP0S— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) July 13, 2019
It’s impossible not to feel nostalgic. Watching Manu move the ball was one of the greatest joys of being a Spurs fan. A lot of players and coaches deserve credit for the evolution of San Antonio’s style of play, but it was undoubtedly Manu who led the way. Others embraced constant ball movement as a means to an end, but only Manu and Boris Diaw seemed to find joy in it. To them it was its own reward.
I sometimes fear that because Manu played well past his athletic prime, he’ll be remembered as a lesser player than he was; one whom younger NBA fans will remember as a savvy veteran who made the right plays instead of an unpredictable bringer of chaos who completely took over games when he was younger. He was not just fun to watch and unique; he was a legitimate star.
Then I watch clips like the one above, and those fears are assuaged. Even if he’s remembered for what he did in the last few years of his career, it’s impossible to watch him sling no-look passes for open shots in his late thirties and think he was anything but a special player. It doesn’t matter through which gateway the late-comers to the Manu cult enter. They will ultimately be compelled to watch more and more, and they’ll eventually find the truth.
It’s been a year now since Manu retired but I firmly believe that if he wanted to, he could lace them up again and play 15 minutes a game for the Spurs next season. The man had an unbelievable basketball IQ and was completely selfless, which means he’d find a way to be helpful even as his athleticism dwindled. He’d do wonders for the team’s culture and would be an ideal mentor for the young guards.
But I’m fine with him having moved on. He’s done enough for us. Right now, he’s probably somewhere sunny with his family, tap-passing the sunscreen to one of his kids. I hope he gets to enjoy the rest of his life as much as we enjoyed his career.
Swimming with Galapagos Sharks. Awesome experience! pic.twitter.com/VSLmppgyZP— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) July 5, 2019
I still miss watching Manu move the ball, but fortunately he was generous enough to leave us plenty of highlights to get us through random July Saturdays. That was Manu’s last assist, and one of the best of his career.