Spurs’ Gregg Popovich reflects on what it’s like coaching Manu Ginobili
With his jersey retirement ceremony just days away, Manu Ginobili is on every San Antonio Spurs fan’s mind. The fan favorite is being honored on Thursday for his 16-season career with the team, which ended last year. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is thinking about his former shooting guard as well.
In a video clip released Monday, Pop reflected on his experiences with Ginobili, from his humble beginnings to his locker room presence.
Via the team’s official Twitter account:
"On and off the floor he was so personable. He loved people and his passion for the game was exemplary."
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 25, 2019
“When we drafted him, we certainly didn’t know he was going to become ‘Manu.’ So when he came, unfortunately he had a bad ankle, so he had to sit for a bit, and I can still remember during that period, Timmy [Duncan] wondering, ‘Is this guy as good as you keep saying, Pop? Is this guy really, you know, whatever, he doesn’t look like it to me. He’s hobbling out there, he’s got one leg.’
“So, once he started up again, like in January I believe, it became apparent right away. And when Timmy Duncan’s eyebrows raise in amazement, you know it’s something.
“On and off the floor he was so personable. He loved people and his passion for the game was exemplary.”
Manu Ginobili, now 41, is beloved by Spurs fans for his longevity and consistency. For his career, he averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 44.7 percent. His best season came in 2007-08, when he won Sixth Man of the Year for his 19.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
Named to only two All-Star teams in his career (2005 and 2011), Ginobili still carved out a memorable career for San Antonio. The Argentinian was a part of four Spurs championship teams, winning rings in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014.
His jersey retirement will no doubt be emotional for Spurs fans across the nation. Don’t be surprised if his former head coach gets teary-eyed as well.