In the midst of one of the toughest periods of his illustrious career, Manu Ginobili is talking like a player who may be closer to hanging up his sneakers than anyone thought.
All season long I kind of knew that I was going to play one or two more years. But when you are 36 [years old]—I'm going to be 36 pretty soon—everything is a day-by-day basis. Once the season finishes and I see how I feel, I can't imagine me not playing at least one more year here, but time will tell. We'll see.
Ginobili has averaged just 7.5 points per game during the NBA Finals and has rarely resembled the dynamic, creative offensive force he has been for years. In other words, with his basketball mortality staring him in the face, Ginobili is taking a realistic survey of whether or not he's got enough left to make another year or two worth it.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
What's surprising is the somewhat abrupt change in his outlook. At the end of May, it certainly sounded like Ginobili was a sure thing to continue his career.
It would be a shame for the league to lose Ginobili if he decides to retire after this season, as nobody else in the NBA has managed to duplicate his unique approach. He's the king of the wrong-footed takeoff, specializes in unorthodox no-look passes and generally plays with a flare that makes every possession exciting.
His aggressiveness and unpredictability are unparalleled. Oh, and the Eurostep? He's kind of the pioneer of that move in American basketball.
In addition to the anecdotal tidbits that make Ginobili so much fun, his statistical contributions have also been remarkable. He posted a PER of at least 21.78 in eight straight seasons from 2004-05 until 2011-12. And even in a down season this year, he put up a figure of 19.05 that ranked fourth among all shooting guards.
Don't lose hope, though, as Ginobili ended his comments to Shelburne with the following encouraging statement:
Sometimes I do think about retirement. But then I say, 'No, no. I love what I do. I'm very lucky to be in a franchise like this. So I really can't picture myself being retired already.' There's a small chance. It's not that I'm really considering, but I can never say 'no' for sure, because I sometimes consider it.
That's cause for some optimism, right?
I, for one, am not ready for an end to the Ginobili era. No matter how rough things have been during these finals, there's still a need for his quirky, crafty, hyper-aggressive style.
Eurosteps forever, Manu.