Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will miss retired Manu Ginobili more than he can quite express. It’s not just the things the Argentine sensation did on the basketball court either that Pop will miss. It’s Ginobili’s interest in the world around him — “politics, religion, didn’t matter what it was” — that endeared Ginobili indelibly to Pop. “He was like a partner in that respect,” Popovich said.
But if Pop has his way, he won’t have to miss the genial, inquisitive presence of Ginobili outside the lines all that much. Because as the Spurs also did with retiree Tim Duncan, the team is encouraging Ginobili to remain a steady presence in the Spurs cosmos. They want him to hang around. Not just for good company but for his wisdom.
Pop says not only does he hope Ginobili will be at practices “now and then, when he feels like it,” but he has put his former NBA Sixth Man of the Year to work. Popovich told reporters that he’s come to rely on Ginobili so much over the years that most weren’t surprised to learn that Pop is already mining Ginobili for coaching insight. Guess who attended the preseason Spurs coaching retreat? Yup, not just these great basketball minds, but also Ginobili. “We actually took him on out coaches retreat this last week,” Popovich revealed. “So he spent time with us trying to develop a strategy for the season. We want to keep him around as much as we can, just like Timmy [Duncan].”