Legend Manu Ginobili is reportedly finalizing details to return to the San Antonio Spurs for his sixteenth season. His contributions to the team’s culture, legacy and success have been immeasurable.
After losing star Tim Duncan to retirement last summer, the San Antonio Spurs and its fans held their breath regarding Manu Ginobili’s negotiations. The Argentinian star has been a fan-favorite since he joined the team in 2003.
Even at 39 years-old, Ginobili remains extremely effective. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.7 assists in roughly 19 minutes per game this season.
Ginobili’s endless arsenal of moves and competitive drive makes him one of the game’s greatest shooting guards ever. His game-saving block in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals is just one of many iconic Manu Moments.
Whether it be through eurosteps, spectacular passes or thunderous dunks, Ginobili always finds a way to make an impact. Here are four times when Manu Ginobili showed the world why he’s such an icon for San Antonio history.
4. The Time He Took On a Bat
It’s safe to say that Manu has faced some of the game’s strongest competition. His ferocious tenacity has allowed him to overcome seemingly insurmountable opponents. Through all of his duels, one wouldn’t expect Manu’s most famous adversary to be a wild bat.
In 2009, Ginobili and the Spurs faced Kevin Martin and the Sacramento Kings for a Halloween matchup. Through 22 minutes off the bench, Ginobili tallied 13 points, three assists and one unforgettable moment.
By an unexpected and ironic turn of events, a wild bat entered the AT&T Center and wreaked havoc across the court. With 45 seconds remaining in the first quarter, referees halted a fastbreak to address the situation.
As players scattered and shocked fans awaited help, Ginobili found an opportunity to solve the problem. With a swift step and a careful eye, he crept toward the fluttering bat.
With the cunning resolution of a lion on the hunt, Manu did the unthinkable. Using his signature left hand and a graceful spin, Ginobili delivered a haymaker to the unsuspecting bat. The crowd erupted as the incapacitated bat dropped to the court floor.
Ginobili hand-delivered the creature to AT&T Center staff as the Batman theme rung through the stadium. San Antonio went on to win 113-94.
While this moment may not be directly related to basketball, it’s something extremely specific to Ginobili. The moment broke the barriers of sports and showed the entire world just how fearless Manu is.
So if you’ve ever heard him referred to as Batman, this is exactly why.
Next: A Big Night vs. Phoenix
3. The Time He Scored 48 Points Against Phoenix
The year was 2005 and San Antonio’s rivalry with Phoenix was in full effect. Mike D’Antonio and Steve Nash’s Suns had emerged as a powerhouse in the West. Meanwhile, the Spurs remained one of the league’s scariest opponents led by the Big Three.
With roughly a month until the All-Star Break, both teams had been working to maintain their impressive records. As the Spurs traveled Phoenix, the stage was set for a wonderful matchup.
At this point in his career, Ginobili’s ability to perform under pressure was fully realized by opposing teams. After posting just 13 points in their previous matchup, Manu was poised for a big game. This was evident by the first play of the game, when he blew by Quentin Richardson for a lefty slam.
Despite trailing by just one point at the half, San Antonio collapsed in the third quarter. Poor shooting nights from Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen left the majority of scoring duties to Ginobili and Duncan.
Unfortunately for Phoenix, this created the opportunity for Ginobili to explode offensively. The Spurs’ fourth quarter comeback was overshadowed by Shawn Marion’s leaning three-pointer which forced the game into overtime.
Miraculously, Ginobili’s scoring frenzy continued into overtime and surged San Antonio to a 128-123 victory. Marion’s 35 points and Amar’e Stoudemire’s 37 points amazed the Phoenix home crowd, but Manu stole the show.
He finished with 48 points on 16-22 shooting (5-7 on three-pointers), five rebounds and four assists.
This was one of many notable moments for Ginobili in this season, including an All-Star appearance and his second NBA Championship.
Next: Posterizing Chris Bosh
2. The Time He Posterized Chris Bosh and Won His Fourth Title
As aforementioned, Ginobili is known to operate under pressure. Coming off of a difficult Championship loss in 2013, San Antonio had their chance at redemption. Despite seven long games of high-level competition, Ginobili fell short of his fourth title and wouldn’t let that opportunity pass again.
In full awareness of the pressure on him, he did not disappoint in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals. With intense back-and-forth scoring through the first quarter, San Antonio regained control of the game in the second quarter.
With roughly 2:47 left in the half, Ginobili pulled off what may be the most iconic playoff moment of his career.
Manu Ginobili is returning for his 16th NBA season, all with the Spurs.
Ginobili ranks 5th on the Spurs all-time scoring list. pic.twitter.com/R7R8ySQ6oe
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2017
Tim Duncan grabbed a defensive rebound off of a missed three by former All-Star, Chris Bosh. He immediately found his wingman in Ginobili, who crossed halfcourt with conviction and momentum.
Ginobili jolted toward the basket despite slowing his dribble approaching the three-point line. Catching legend Ray Allen off guard, Manu blew past him toward the rim.
The 36-year-old Ginobili exercised his full body control and curved around big man Udonis Haslem before rising above the rim. Despite rim protection by Bosh, Manu slammed the ball own with ruthless conviction for his tenth and eleventh points of the night.
Naturally, the AT&T Center burst with the excitement of San Antonio’s fan base. Many spectators viewed this as the moment the Spurs sealed their fate. Through the rest of it, Miami hadn’t come within five points of San Antonio’s lead and were subsequently eliminated.
While Kawhi Leonard was named Finals MVP, Ginobili had made a strong case for the award as well. Regardless, obtaining his fourth ring was a massive accolade for his career.
Next: Game vs. Warriors
1. The Time He Defeated Curry and Golden State
The Big Three of San Antonio built their success on a foundation of teamwork, camaraderie and skill. To create a legacy of their caliber, you need to close out games. This was something that Manu Ginobili understands very well.
Manu’s ability to close a game was greatly exemplified in Game One of the 2013 NBA Western Conference Semifinals. After sweeping the Lakers in the first round, San Antonio was tasked with containing a budding Golden State squad.
The momentum of each team provided a high-scoring game with dynamic play from both sides. Ginobili struggled with efficiency in this matchup, shooting just 5-20 from the floor for 16 points.
Even so, Manu couldn’t stand this as a competitor. To make up for his slump, he contributed 11 assists and seven rebounds throughout the night. Naturally, Ginobili came up big when it mattered most.
The game landed in two overtime periods and each team traded blows. In what may have been his breakout game, Curry had scored 44 points on the night. In addition, Tony Parker racked up 28 points and Danny Green scored 22 points.
Golden State led 127-126 with 3.4 seconds remaining. Kawhi Leonard stood at the far side of the court as Ginobili set a screen for Parker. After losing his defender, Manu stepped back to the three-point line and called out to Leonard.
At the moment he gained possession of the ball, Ginobili entered his shooting form and released. Kent Bazemore hurled himself toward Manu with reckless abandon, but it wasn’t enough. Manu perfectly drained the shot with 1.2 seconds and the Spurs won, 129-127. They went on to win the series in six games.
Overall, Manu Ginobili means a lot to the Spurs Franchise. His presence is invaluable to a locker room and has made him one of the league’s best teammates.
With Ginobili lacing up for another season in the Alamo City, we’ll likely see another plethora of outstanding Manu Moments.