Remembering when Manu Ginobili went nuclear for the San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Hornets, Game 7
San Antonio Spurs v New Orleans Hornets, Game 7 / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs are about to embark on a brand-new era of basketball after landing Victor Wembanyama this summer. But taking a trip down memory lane can help us appreciate the iconic names that helped turn this organization into the gold standard of the NBA. Among those famous figures is Manu Ginobili, a second-round success story that earned his place in basketball history as one of the best sixth men to grace the league.

Though Ginobili never posted extraordinary per-game numbers operating as the third fiddle behind Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, there is no doubt he had All-Star talent that set him apart from all the other spark plugs coming off the bench during his prime. From his immaculate footwork and insane court vision to his creative handle and split-second processing, the Argentine swingman was must-see television every time he set foot on the floor.

Manu surrendered minutes, touches, and individual accolades for a less glamorous role that directly impacted team success, but he had the tools to be the engine of a championship offense. And for a short stretch when injuries forced Parker in and out of the lineup in 2008, El Contusione stepped up to the plate and shouldered an unbelievable share of the scoring and playmaking responsibilities on the way to leading the Spurs to a perfect 11-0 record.

Averaging 26.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game for a contender is fantastic regardless of the sample size, especially when that production comes on .543/.479/.893 shooting splits. So next time you see Luka Doncic or James Harden bury a step back, sling a skip pass, eurostep to the rim, or ball fake someone out of their shoes, don't forget it was Ginobili who made the blueprint for those modern superstars to thrive in the NBA.