Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are two of the greatest players to ever don a San Antonio Spurs uniform. Unfortunately, we may have seen each of them play the last game of their careers.
Following a 4-0 series defeat to the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs are left at a crossroads after being sent home prematurely for a third consecutive season.
The Spurs will stay alive as long as head coach Gregg Popovich is still on the bench, but the potential loss of Parker and Ginobili would surely shake the dynastic foundation. If we have indeed seen the last of these two, we can all concede it was one hell of a run. We ultimately may never see another duo as selfless as these two. As historically great as Tim Duncan was, he couldn’t have asked for a better pair of teammates to help him along the way.
Parker was an under-the-radar prospect coming out of France. Selected with the 28th overall pick in 2001, the blazing fast point guard immediately made the jump to the NBA at just 19 years old. His stellar play for the French National team at such a young age lent many to believe in Parker’s vast potential. He was thrust into a major role from the get-go — garnering 72 starts during his rookie year for a team that won 58 games.
Ginobili took a bit of a different approach to his NBA career. Originally selected 57th overall in ‘99, Manu didn’t make his NBA debut until 2002. While developing his game overseas, Ginobili collected numerous EuroLeague awards and accolades. When he finally did make his way to the States, Ginobili found himself buried on a stacked Spurs roster. Backing up Steve Smith and beset by injury, it took a bit of time for Ginobili to get acclimated to the league.
Both players hit their stride at the perfect time in 2003, playing major roles on the Championship team. They’d do it again in 2005. And again in 2007. And once more for old time’s sake in 2014. The seasons in between weren’t so bad either — having won at least 50 games in each of them (and that’s including a lockout year when they only played 66 games).
During their time together in San Antonio, the duo have combined for the aforementioned four NBA titles, six All-NBA selections, and eight All-Star teams. Parker took home the Skills Challenge title in 2012 and the Shooting Stars championship in 2006, while Manu was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year after the 2008 season. Ginobili brought home the Gold medal for his home country of Argentina in the 2004 Athens Games, and Parker even grabbed a Finals MVP for his performance in the 2007 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They are two of the most accomplished and talented players — internationally and domestically – of this generation. Both players have helped break the typical mold of their respective positions. Parker regularly led the league in points in the paint as a point guard, and Ginobili accepted a bench role as one of the top players on the team. They sacrificed individual awards in exchange for team success. Their numbers will be hanging in the rafters of AT&T Center soon enough.
For now, all we can say to Tony and Manu is thank you. Thank you for proving doubters wrong time and time again. Thank you for making the extra pass. Thank you for showing team ball – almost – always wins. Thank you. For Everything.
Image Source: Zimbio