After a great career full of outstanding achievements, Manu Ginobili has decided to retire from basketball at age 41. Ginobili was one of the first EuroLeague stars, right after the competition was created before the start of the 2000-01 season. He played the competition's two opening seasons with Kinder Bologna. Ginobili led Kinder to the 2000-01 EuroLeague title, becoming the competition's originals champions, downing Tau Ceramica in an unforgettable five-game playoffs series - the longest final in European club basketball history. He averaged 15.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals to become the EuroLeague Finals MVP. "I'm so happy, but it's not so important that I'm the MVP," said Ginobili. "I'm happy for our victory. We are a great team, we keep together well and my MVP award, it's secondary."
Ginobili played a second EuroLeague season with Kinder, taking his team all the way to the 2002 EuroLeague final in his team's home court, Palamaguti in Bologna, Italy. Ginobili had 27 points in the Championship Game but Panathinaikos Athens, led by Dejan Bodiroga, rallied past Kinder to take the trophy home, 83-89. He was chosen to the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2002. Ginobili played 44 EuroLeague games, averaging 15.5 points, 4 rebounds and an all-time record 2.7 steals. He also led Kinder to an Italian League double - league and cup titles - in 2001 and lifted the Italian Cup trophy again in 2002. "The Euroleague helped me a lot to improve as a player, I really have no doubt about that. Playing for a team like Kinder Bologna back in those days was a huge step forward in my career. It made me mature as a player. I learned to play for my teammates and not only for myself, so I think that without that step, I wouldn't be the player I am today," Ginobili said in a Euroleague.net interview in 2006. Euroleague Basketball chose him as one of the 50 biggest contributors to European club basketball in 2008.
Ginobili went on to play for San Antonio of the NBA until the end of his career, winning four NBA titles in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. He also led Argentina to a historic gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. That allowed Ginobili to be one of only two players to win the NBA, the EuroLeague and an Olympic gold medal. Bill Bradley - New York 1970, 1973, Olimpia Milano 1966, Tokyo 1964 - is the other player to reach such achievement. Ginobili also won a silver medal with Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, a bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games, as well as respective gold medals in the 2001 and 2011 FIBA Americas championship, and the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball. As for individual awards, Ginobili was chosen to the All-NBA third team in 2008 and 2011, becoming the competition's sixth-best man in 2008. He started his career with Club Andino of his native Argentina. Ginobili also played for Club Estudiantes also of Argentina and Viola Reggio Calabria of Italy before joining Kinder. He will also be remembered by taking the Euro-step - a move in which a player takes a step in one direction off the dribble and then quickly takes a second step in another direction - to another level. Ginobili made history in North America, South America and of course, Europe.