A recently-retired Spurs legend Manu Ginobili has had quite the impact throughout his 16 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs than others with more accolades to their names. For Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, he was the example used to successfully sell Andre Iguodala into coming off the bench.
Iguodala’s signing had already helped the Warriors become better defensively during the 2013-14 season under Mark Jackson, but it turned them into a juggernaut once they were able to bring a player of his quality from their reserves.
“He had this perfect balance to the way he played: confidence, humility, fearlessness, competitiveness and joy,” Steve Kerr said of Manu Ginobili, according to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. “He never shied away from a shot, even on his worst night, and never seemed restricted in any way.
“I wish I could have played and felt that way on the court.”
Kerr has always been fond of Ginobili ever since the two became teammates during Manu’s rookie year (2002-03), which would coincide with Kerr’s last of his own 15-year career as a player.
The Argentinian lefty was thrusted into a starting role early in his career, but only made more starts than deployments off the bench in three of his 16 NBA seasons (2004-06, 2010-11).
Ginobili’s unselfishness, competitiveness and pure joy for the game were aspects any player with love for the game would be willing to take on, even for a lifelong starter like Iguodala was at that point. His sacrifice opened the door for a young Harrison Barnes to develop within the system while saving his legs for crunch-time minutes, which would prove vital in the last four NBA Finals.