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Manu Ginobili retires from the NBA after 16 seasons

Manu Ginobili talks with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. | David Banks/AP Photo

Manu Ginobili, an integral part of the Spurs’ multi-championship run and one of the premier international players of his generation, retired from the NBA on Monday after 16 seasons. The decision came after he reportedly met with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich last week to discuss his future on the court.

The impact that Ginobili had on and off the court as a basketball player is difficult to measure. From his role as the leader of Argentina’s golden generation to his popularization of the Eurostep, Ginobili did so much more than merely help the Spurs win a lot of games.

But oh, they did that, too, as San Antonio won four NBA championships after Ginobili joined the team in 2002. He had been one of the final picks of the 1999 NBA Draft, a flier on an unproven wing from South America who would eventually become the continent’s greatest player. Over the next 16 years, Ginobili established himself as a selfless superstar in a league wracked with big egos.

Gaudy numbers were never a part of Ginobili’s game – he never averaged 20 points per contest, for example – but his willingness to play any role, even coming off the bench, made him integral to the chemistry the Spurs had. And at his peak, such as the 2007-08 season when he averaged 19.5 points per game on 46 percent shooting, he was a master at efficient scoring.

Even last season at age 40, Ginobili was a useful player for the Spurs, averaging 8.9 points per game on 43 percent shooting. He saw his most playing time in three years for a team that tried to fill the absence of Kawhi Leonard. It was an admirable final effort even if he was no longer the spry Manu who could tie defenses into a knot.

Ginobili, now 41, finishes his NBA career with averages of 13.3 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. He made two All-Star teams (2005, 2011), earned All-NBA third team honors twice (2008, 2011) and was the 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year.