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Breaking: Spurs legend Manu Ginobili to retire from NBA after 16 seasons

San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili has decided to retire from the NBA, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Argentinian left-hander summed up his gratitude with a few words before making his official statement.

“IMMENSE GRATITUDE to everyone (family, friends, teammates, coaches, staff, fans) involved in my life in the last 23 years. It’s been a fabulous journey. Way beyond my wildest dreams.”

The four-time NBA champion met with head coach Gregg Popovich this weekend in hopes to iron out his playing situation after mulling retirement for the past two seasons.

The loss of teammate Tony Parker likely played a large role in his decision to retire, as he was the lone remaining teammate from his early days with the Spurs. Parker signed a two-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets earlier this summer after leaving the keys to the point guard position for young Dejounte Murray midway through last season.

Ginobili had $2.5 million waiting for him if he played this upcoming season, but the 41-year-old has decided to make the 2017-18 season his last after spending every one of his 16 NBA seasons in a Spurs jersey.

The Spurs released his decision shortly after it was announced by Charania and plan to place him on waivers, soaking up every bit of his remaining salary, as they did with former talisman Tim Duncan — with the ultimate show of organizational class, by choosing to honor their commitment to him, despite his decision to hang them up.

Ginobili played 16 seasons in the NBA, but played another seven in his native Argentina and later in Italy, which would set the stage for being drafted by the Spurs in 1999 with the 57th overall pick.

The Bahia Blanca native wouldn’t get a shot to break into the NBA until the 2002-03 season after four years playing in the Italian league, posting averages of 7.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game in his rookie season with the Spurs.

It wouldn’t take long for Ginobili to break out as one of the NBA’s most fun talents to watch, due to his razzle-dazzle style of one-on-one ball-handling maneuvers and his acrobatic finishes at the rim.

Ginobili captured four NBA titles alongside his friends Parker and Duncan — the international Big Three that constantly flew under the radar, but netted hardware when it counted.

Manu was a two-time All-Star (2005, 2011) and the Sixth Man of the Year in 2008, but the brightest stage came when the 6-foot-6 slasher led his national team to a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, a victory that would open the eyes of many and push international competition to new levels.

Ginobili posted 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists over his 16-year career in the NBA, hanging them up after giving the sport 23 total years of service.