The Coyote waves in front of the Municipal Plaza Building where Manu Ginobili is being honored by the City of San Antonio.
The Coyote waves to the crowd outside the Municipal Plaza Building where the City of San Antonio honored Manu Ginobili. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

On Thursday, a large black banner reading “Gracias Manu 20!” hung outside the Municipal Plaza building in downtown San Antonio. Inside, with a formal proclamation, Mayor Ron Nirenberg pronounced Aug. 30, 2018, as Manu Ginobili Day.

After 16 seasons with the Spurs and much anticipation ahead of the preseason, Ginobili announced his retirement on Monday.

Almost all City Council members donned crisp No. 20 Ginobili jerseys at their regular Thursday meeting. Councilman John Courage (D9) opted to wear a personalized Spurs jersey with his last name and “06” emblazoned on the back.

Nirenberg rattled off a list of Ginobili’s accolades, including his four NBA championships, two Olympic medals won for Argentina, and the record for scoring the most wins as part of a trio in the NBA – The Big Three of Ginobili, retired Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker, who joined the Charlotte Hornets in July.

Nirenberg praised Ginobili for his willingness to be a team player rather than put his personal career first.

“More than his basketball skills, it’s Manu’s character – his grit, his tenacity, his sacrifice for the team, always putting the end goal in front of his career – that will define his legacy,” Nirenberg said. “He’s not only the fiercest competitor I think we’ve ever seen, but also the most humble and selfless champion of all.”

Nirenberg spoke about watching Ginobili grow as a player and joked about his evolving hairstyles.

“We’ll never forget his hairstyles, whether it was the shaggy mop or his beautiful bald head,” Nirenberg said. “We’ll never forget when he transformed mid-court from an NBA champion to the Batman, swatting down danger and needing a rabies shot.” (Ginobili swatted a bat out of the air during a 2009 game against the Sacramento Kings at the AT&T Center.)

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The Spurs Coyote joined Council in marking the occasion at City Hall and stayed after the proclamation to pose for pictures.

Ginobili, who is from Argentina, wrote a column about his retirement decision for Argentine newspaper La Nacion on Tuesday. In it, he thanked his fans for supporting him on his journey and explained his career was special because he got to spend almost 20 years with the same players on the same teams — the Spurs and Argentina’s Golden Generation.

Tuve la fortuna de formar parte de los grupos que han tenido una relevancia increíble en el deporte y en todos los caso encontré una calidad humana imposible de igualar,” he wrote in Spanish. “A nivel profesional haber tenido esa posibilidad es sin duda asombroso.”

“I was fortunate to be part of the groups that have had an incredible relevance in the sport, and in all cases, I found an unequaled human quality. At a professional level, having had that possibility is, without a doubt, amazing.”

Ginobili added he would be sticking around San Antonio. His children have already started classes here, he wrote, and he would help with the team and franchise where he can.

Si puedo ayudar desde afuera, lo hare con mucho gusto,” he wrote.

“If I can help from the outside, I will do it with pleasure.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.