Future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who have been the heart of many championship teams with the San Antonio Spurs, are undecided on their NBA playing futures after an unexpected early playoff exit.
The Spurs, who had the second-best record (67-15) in the regular season, were upset in the Western Conference semifinal by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday and both veterans were quickly faced with questions about their future plans.
“I’ll get to that after I get out of here and figure life out,” Duncan, a 40-year-old, five-time champion with the Spurs during a 19-year NBA career, told reporters.
San Antonio rolled through the regular season, losing only one of their 41 home games, and were an overwhelming favourite to reach the conference final for a mouthwatering clash with the defending champion and top-seeded Golden State Warriors.
But the Spurs, long considered the NBA’s model franchise, lost two of their three homes games versus the Thunder en route to dropping the best-of-seven series in six games, and they suddenly face an uncertain future.
Ginobili, a 38-year-old, four-time NBA champion with the Spurs who also led Argentina’s men’s basketball team to a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, is used to the questions about when he will retire. He said he would “take my time as always” before making a decision on whether to return for a 15th season.
“It’s been an amazing run,” said Ginobili. “We all enjoy playing with each other. We’ve accomplished amazing things. We won 67 games. Of course, it’s disappointing when you don’t end up winning the last game. But only one team can do it. In 14 seasons in my case, it happened a lot of times.
“I’m still proud of having played with those guys for so many years and winning so many games and even playing with the new guys,” he said.
“It’s the reason why you always want to come back and keep being part of this because of the amazing chemistry and the good times and good people that you play with and spend time with. It’s not always about winning a game or winning a championship. You learn from losses and enjoy the every day, too.”