Manu Ginobili today reflected on his 16 years with the San Antonio Spurs, in his first public comments since announcing his retirement, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"Even tough I am very sure about the decision, it is still awkward," he said of his retirement. "But my fingers shook a lot before hitting that 'enter,' I am telling you. It wasn't an easy decision. After 23 years doing this, it was hard to put the last nail on that coffin."
Ginobili says he knew during last season that it would be his last, but he didn't announce it until this summer.
"I couldn't see my body going through that grind again," he said. "I felt I left everything I had in the last season, physically and mentally, and when I came back I saw some of the guys working out, and I was so far from that, and that's when I said to myself 'this is it'. I couldn't see me getting ready for another 82 games."
He joked that his entire family supports his decision, but one of his sons didn't want him to retire because 'the chicken tenders in the practice room are awesome.'
"If any of the newer guys wants to come and talk to me, I will be around," he said.
He says he and his family plans to split their time between San Antonio and Argentina.
"Winter here, summer there," he said. "Enjoy some relaxing time. We are very excited about that, we haven't spent the summer in Argentina since '98. We miss it, we miss our families, and its about time to go back."
He says right now, he has no long term plans and 'I'm loving that.'
"All these years I've been taking care of my body, working out, recovering from an injury, getting ready for the season, I am loving this uncertainty. Now I can take the kids to school and do the things I want."
But he said 'for sure,' he's going to miss playing with the Spurs.
"I'll miss the locker room, the comraderie, the inside jokes, the winning together and losing together, we were all fighting for the same goal," he said. "That sense of community in a basketball game is fun, and I'm sure I'm going to miss that. Right now, I feel like I have been retired for longer, I am very happy and excited about my decision to retire."
Ginobili said Coach Popovich 'briefly tried to convince me' not to retire, but he said Pop has been very supportive of his decision.
"He respected by decision and we had a great talk."
What about the future of the Spurs?
"I think it is going to be very awkward, its' going to be a challenge (for Pop)." I think its going to be a great challenge for him. Maybe less corporate knowledge, but young and wanting to prove a lot of things. I think he'll do good."
And then he looked back on his career with the Spurs.
"I never expected to be playing until 40," he said. "I was a vet when I came here, I was 25. To play 16 seasons here was completely unexpected. Creating that type of union with the coaches, the front office, with the staff, teammates. It has been an amazing journey, way beyond anything that can be expected. I don't think anybody expects anything like this. It just happens to some very lucky people."