Spurs fans share favorite stories about Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

If you were a fan of the San Antonio Spurs at any point since 2002, the chances are high that you developed some strong feelings about Manu Ginobili. Whether it be feelings of admiration, respect, love, or all of the above, there was just no way to escape Manu mania for many years.

The combination of a shining personality off the court and a flashy game on it made Ginobili must-watch-TV every time he stepped on the court. That combination made him a household name not only among NBA fans but among sports fans worldwide.

Everything about Manu, from his unlikely meteoric rise as a late draft pick to his tendency to always put his body on the line, made him extremely easy to root for. As a result, fans everywhere he went would often sport Argentina flags, wear his jersey, and scream his name in unison to encourage their favorite player.

My first in-person interaction with Manu came in 2002 when he did an autograph signing at IHOP in San Antonio. Like everyone else, I barely knew anything about him at the time. I mostly went because my older sister had a crush on him.

Spurs Fans share their thoughts and memories of Manu Ginobili

Of course, I'll be sharing plenty of my own thoughts on Manu himself all week, but when I began this venture for Manu Ginobili Week, I also wanted to spotlight you all, the fans. I sent an open survey on Twitter to share your thoughts on him, and here's what some of you had to say.

"Growing up, Manu was one of the few lefties I saw playing basketball," said Tre' Johnson. "I remember always emulating his moves and celebrations. My favorite moment is his dagger three versus the Heat in 2014. That fist pump still gives me chills."

Another lefty, user @15TT20 on Twitter, had similar feelings about the legend:

"Ginobili quickly became not only my favorite Spur but my favorite basketball player ever. Watching his intensity on the court and how humble he was off the court was so memorable. You knew that if Ginobili was playing, he was going to give 1000%. How could you not cheer for someone who literally gives everything he has game after game, season after season?!"

Gabe Cassorla had a more personal touch when he penned a letter to Manu Ginobili upon his retirement announcement. I felt it was only right to share the entire thing, given the meaning behind it.

"I went to a Spurs-Nets game and was in awe at the gangly, moppy-haired man who was the best player on the court. It sparked my love of the game, which is already a big part of my identity, but he also showed me so many things. First, just because someone doesn’t look the part doesn’t mean they can’t play it. He twisted and turned and made impossible shots as a skinny white guy in a league of 7-foot players.

He sacrificed fame and money for team success, being willing to take massive discounts and come off the bench and play fewer minutes for the good of the team, which led to four titles and showed me that even without money, loyalty can pay off.

Even today, it shows again that this game that he has given so much to, that he still loves so much -- is not more important than his family. You will always be my favorite athlete in any sport, and I will always try to emulate you in whatever I do. Thank you, Manu!"

Fellow Air Alamo writers Kyle Pring and Jonah Kubicek had some words about Manu Ginobili as well.

Pring: "Manu saw the game in a different way. I think watching him play just made me more of a basketball purist, even as a fan. Basketball in my country (The Philippines) is not really the cerebral one, so the play style can be too cookie cutter. Manu just made things more exciting because while his moves may be too wild or flashy at times, looking back, he always made sense and made everything seem smarter. He's definitely one of my inspirations for being a basketball nerd!"

Kubicek: "Whenever I would attend Spurs games in Detroit, Piston fans would always groan when they saw me in a Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili shirt because of the 2005 Finals. Detroit fans love to play the "what if" game, so they have a natural hatred for San Antonio. That being said, every single time the Spurs came to town, all the Latinos in the area would put on their Ginobili gear and fill up the stadium.

He's one of the most loved players in NBA history, and people always came to see him play. Usually, the Spurs would blow out Detroit, so by the end of the game, only Spurs fans remained and there were audible chants of "Go Spurs go!" that could be heard from the concourse and even out in the parking lot. The Spurs are the only team that was able to pull that off in Detroit, and it was because of Manu."

@zarzarbinkss was another Spurs fan who rooted for the Silver and Black from outside of San Antonio:

"Growing up in Maryland being a Manu fanatic kind of became part of my personality since we don't have many Spurs fans here. All through the deep playoff runs, I was skipping hangouts with friends or making people turn games on wherever I was.

In 2003, I remember first watching him and being like 'what the hell is this dude doing out here?' I kept watching in amazement and started trying to emulate his play myself. Not too long after he won the gold medal in 2004 when I was only 12 years old, it solidified that this was going to be my guy, and ultimately my team, for the long haul.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. All thanks to Manu. Even all the way from Baltimore, I feel a special bond with the San Antonio community through Manu that I maybe haven't earned having only ever visited for a few days, and he is to thank for it."

Finally, John Pickett perfectly summed up what made Manu Ginobili so special in his entry:

"His in-game impact is unlike anyone we've ever seen, but his interaction with fans and media is why he's so well-loved. He always had a smile, cracked a joke, or was able to be very real with the media," said Pickett. "Spurs fans really appreciated that."

The Top 30 San Antonio Spurs Ever. dark. Next

Manu Ginobili Week continues here, as we rank him among the best international players in basketball history.