Manu Ginobili, a 4-time champion with Spurs, retires at 41


SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili has played his final game, and with that a new era awaits the San Antonio Spurs.

Ginobili announced his decision to retire Monday, the 41-year-old wrapping up what he called a "fabulous journey" in which he helped the Spurs win four NBA championships in 16 seasons with the club.

The smooth left-handed guard from Argentina came to San Antonio in 2002, forming what quickly became a powerful "Big 3" alongside Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Now, they've all moved on: Duncan retired two years ago, Parker left San Antonio earlier this summer as a free agent to sign with the Charlotte Hornets, and Ginobili has worn Spurs colors for the last time as well.

"Today, with a wide range of feelings, I'm announcing my retirement from basketball," Ginobili wrote on Twitter in making the announcement. "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 image Ginobili chose to accompany that tweet: A photo of him walking off the floor, away from the camera, with four fingers aloft – signifying his four titles.

"An NBA champion and All-Star, Manu Ginobili is also a pioneer who helped globalize the NBA," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "He is one of basketball's greatest ambassadors who believes in the power of sports to change lives. And for 16 years, we were fortunate to watch a legend compete at the highest level. Thank you, Manu, for a career that inspired millions of people around the world."

Ginobili's pro career lasted 23 seasons in all, starting with stints in Italy and Argentina. His drawing power was massive even in his final season, and it was common for him to spend plenty of time before road games posing for photos and signing autographs – often international fans proudly displaying an Argentine flag.

"A role model for all of us that love this wonderful sport," Spurs forward Pau Gasol said.

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