This question has been ongoing for at least the last five seasons. And every season the San Antonio Spurs bring most of the same guys back, including 38-year-old Tim Duncan and 37-year-old Manu Ginobili.
Both of these guys have been immeasurably instrumental to their franchise’s success. Duncan won his fifth ring this past June, while Ginobili captured his fourth. Both players, as well as Tony Parker, have created one of the best “Big Three” units of all time.
As both Duncan and Ginobili near 40, and with each being in the last year of their respective contracts (Duncan opted in for one more year, exercising his player option shortly after the Finals concluded), the question must be brought up again: Will this be the last year we see these guys playing basketball?
Duncan is a big family man. You could not go far watching the Finals before you saw his kids cheering along the sidelines or just spending time with their dad prior to each game. Ginobili also has three boys, the latter of which was born in April of this year. Both Duncan and Ginobili are beginning to enter a different phase of their lives, but at the same time you can see each of them clutching on for dear life as they try to soak up every game they play. They each know their time of being professional basketball players is coming to an end.
With that said, Duncan could very well play until he is 40, which means he could go a couple more seasons. The player he is often compared to in terms of “Greatest Power Forward Ever” discussions, Karl Malone, played until that age before knee issues forced him to retire. However, in a recent interview with David Letterman, Duncan admitted that he considered retiring after the Finals before eventually opting in because he felt he could still be productive. It is clear that he has his kids on his mind as his time in the league winds down.
Ginobili might be literally insane. He played through a slight stress fracture in his right leg during the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. But you would have never guessed it, especially when he threw a monstrous jam against the Heat’s Chris Bosh that quickly became one of the highlights of his career. He wanted to represent Argentina this summer when they began playing in the FIBA World Cup, but the Spurs denied him of this because of his lingering injury. Ginobili has a history of playing through injuries, such as when he played through a fractured arm during the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs when the Spurs were upset by the Memphis Grizzlies. He also played with a broken nose during the 2010 NBA Playoffs with the standard Bane-esque face mask.
It is pretty much a miracle that he has lasted this long considering his injury history and how reckless he is driving to the basket. But he’s still here.
In my opinion, I think this will be the last year for both of these guys. It just makes sense. They found closure winning the title this past year after giving it away in 2013 in what was one of the best redemption stories in really all of sports history. The only thing they possibly have left to prove is if they can guide their team to a “repeat” championship, something they have never done. This will be a tall task coming into this season.
Each of these guys have had very special and truly memorable careers that they will look back on fondly one day. If you are a fan of the NBA, try to watch as many games as you can as they each near the finish line.
It goes without saying at this point that the Spurs will be one of the favorites to win the title once again coming into the 2014-15 NBA season. It is because of timeless players like Duncan and Ginobili that the Spurs have been, and will continue to be, successful. They have paved the way for players to last a long time in this league as long as they take care of their bodies and trust their coach and system.
We may never see anything like these two again.