In farewell address, Manu Ginobili officially closes book on the Big Three era in San Antonio – NBA.com

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili walked into the San Antonio Spurs practice facility and saw the intense efforts of his young teammates in preseason workouts.

Ginobili had put himself through those same workouts for 16 seasons. But this August morning, the 41-year-old realized he couldn’t. For a player who has literally thrown himself into his basketball career, the realization his body and spirit were no longer willing cemented the decision to walk away from the NBA.

”I couldn’t see my body going through that kind of grind again,” Ginobili said Saturday during a press conference at the Spurs practice facility. ”I felt that I had a good season, that I left everything that I had in the previous season both physically and mentally.”

Ginobili was thoughtful, self-effacing and funny in his first interview since announcing his retirement Aug. 27 on social media. He steps away after helping San Antonio win four of its five NBA titles, the last coming in 2014.

His retirement, along with Tony Parker’s departure to the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent, brings an end to the era of the Spurs’ Big Three. Along with Tim Duncan, Ginobili and Parker helped San Antonio become the most successful franchise in any sport based on winning percentage.

The Spurs also will be without Kawhi Leonard, who requested a trade and was dealt to Toronto along with Danny Green for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. It will be the first time coach Gregg Popovich enters a season without one of the Big Three by his side.

”I think it’s going to be a great challenge for him having a different kind of team, maybe less corporate knowledge,” Ginobili said. ”I think it’s going to be a fun challenge. I think he’s going to do good.”

The Argentina native was twice selected to the All-Star team and twice named to

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