The San Antonio Spurs have arguably been the quietest dynasty definitely in NBA history and probably in the history of professional sports. They won five titles in the space of just nine years and are in the finals again in 2013 with a chance to win a sixth title in 15 years. Tony Parker is expected to play a little longer and the great Tim Duncan is frequently discussed among the best players in NBA history. However, the final piece of the ‘big three’ – Manu Ginobili – is frequently under appreciated. The 36-year old’s career is gradually fading away and will probably be over within the next year or two. Basketball Schedule reflects on the career of a top quality basketball player.

Ginobili made his name in basketball playing in Argentina and Italy. He is widely regarded as one of the finest basketball products from the European basketball leagues. He didn’t play NBA basketball until he was 26 years old after being drafted in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft.

From very early on in his career, Ginobili demonstrated that he was a wizard. He had a remarkable level of instinctual passing, had a beautiful set of finesse moves to get to the basket and could shoot with most of the best players in the league.

He joined a San Antonio Spurs team with Duncan at its core and a fellow European ball player Parker expected to emerge as the team’s new starter at point guard. The trio almost instantly meshed to perfection.

Ginobili and the Spurs would win three titles in the first five seasons of his career. The ability for Ginobili to create space with his play-making ability to score big points off the bench proved absolutely invaluable to a disciplined San Antonio roster coached by arguably the best in basketball Gregg Popovich.

While his minutes would almost always go up during the playoffs, Ginobili came to represent the quintessential ‘sixth man’ in basketball terms. He won the sixth man of the year award for the 2007-08 season, but he was frequently a strong competitor just because of how vital he was. In reality, he played close to the minutes and had a role greater than three of the team’s starters. Hence it was Ginobili who became a part of the ‘big three’.

His career points per game average stands at 14.9, but he enjoyed a span of seven seasons where he scored at a higher pace than that while averaging a little under five assists per game as well. Of course, what always made Ginobili so great was that he found a way to improve his performance when the games got important in the playoffs.

Ginobili’s ferocity, intensity and at times pure wildness are often forgotten when thinking about a player who is usually described as ‘finesse’ or ‘skilled’. However, the now 36-year old has always played the game with an intensity that wins over the hearts and minds of team mates and fans alike. In fact, it has often been noted that Popovich has a greater soft spot for the Argentine because of a kindred feeling shared with a player who can be erratic.

The NBA will miss Manu Ginobili if he decides to retire whenever that is. For now all fans can hope is that he graces North American basketball courts for at least just a little bit longer.