International basketball waved goodbye to Argentina great Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili, 39, is a long-time player for his country. If you can remember, he was a part of the team to reach the title game of the 2002 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Two years later he helped Argentina capture the Gold Medal at the Olympics.
Argentina, and especially Ginobili saw their quest for another medal as they were eliminated by Team USA on Wednesday night as Argentina reached the Quarter-Finals. USA defeated Argentina 105-78.
After the game, Ginobili touched on his experience with his Argentina National Team and what he feels now at the age of 39 playing the game he loves, for his country. “This is my 20th year since my first game with the national team,” Ginobili said. “I’m very proud. And at the same time, I’m happy – sad and happy because having the opportunity to play this game at 39, it’s not something that happens often.
He brings up his age and how many athletes can still compete at a high level as he is continuing to do, he praises that he is extremely lucky. “How many athletes are my age, especially basketball players? I’m so incredibly lucky to have stayed healthy, to have played with some of the same guys for so long and having done so well with my team – it’s been an amazing run. I’m very proud of it.”
Ginobili like many other San Antonio Spurs players have put their bodies through the ringer if you will. San Antonio is not a team that will play just 82 games. The past 19 consecutive seasons San Antonio has made it to the playoffs, and that means more mileage on the body.
Playing 26 minutes in his final game, Ginobili finished with 14 points, seven assists and one steal. His performance on Wednesday is the type that many Spurs fans have grown accustomed to. After the loss, USA Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Carmelo Anthony spoke with Ginobili.
“They congratulated me,” Ginobili said. “They were very kind, very respectful, and when legends of the game show their respect, it has an extra value.
“They didn’t have to do it. They could have just shaken my hand and then go do their thing and go think about Spain, but they spared some very kind words, respectful words. I truly appreciate it.”
Ginobili should feel really good on what he has accomplished not only in international play but also in his career with San Antonio. He has won four NBA titles and continues to play for the team. He is heading into his 15th season with San Antonio had hopes to become a mentor to the younger core that has been assembled.
Teams shall not sleep on Ginobili. He has proven that he can play this game at the rightful age of 39, and will continue to give everything he has on the floor once the season begins.