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Manu Ginobili has never stopped winning at basketball, no matter what level

Ginobili had one of the most successful careers we’ve probably ever seen in professional sports, period.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If this is the end for Manu Ginobili — the 39 year old says he’ll take a few weeks to contemplate retirement — it’s been a hell of a ride. The sweet-shooting Argentine lefty left his mark on basketball by being successful at every single stop of his career, perhaps as much as anyone we’ve ever seen in basketball. He may never have been the best player in the NBA, or even the best player on the Spurs, but instead, Ginobili established his legacy another way: He won, and won, and won.

Ginobili has 11 professional basketball championships to his name in six different types of competition, including four NBA titles and an Olympics gold medal. Here they are chronologically.

  • 2001 Italian League Championship
  • 2001 Italian Cup
  • 2001 Euroleague championship
  • 2001 FIBA Americas Cup
  • 2002 Italian Cup
  • 2003 NBA championship
  • 2004 Olympics gold medal
  • 2005 NBA championship
  • 2007 NBA championship
  • 2011 FIBA Americas Cup
  • 2014 NBA championship

On top of that, you can add awards like: two-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA third team, NBA Sixth Man of the Year, two-time Italian League MVP, Italian Cup MVP, FIBA Americas championship MVP, and the list goes on even further.

The Argentina gold medal he won during the 2004 Olympics still must be his crowning achievement, one won against a previously unbeatable Team USA squad that forced drastic changes to the entire program and propelled the Argentine one into a cult status.

I’ve always imagined what Ginobili’s NBA career could have looked like outside of San Antonio if he played more like he did internationally. (He averaged 19 points on 58 percent shooting in that eight-game Olympics run.) Could he have led an offense as the No. 1 option? His efficiency was always sparkling — he finished his career with a 58.3 percent True Shooting Percentage, and he topped 60 percent TS% in his highest scoring season. There’s no doubt that his more confined role as the Spurs’ sixth man was his choice and that he was OK setting aside some individual accolades in favor of wins.

Well, it worked. Ginobili’s career record in games he played is 723-269. Yes, that’s correct — Ginobili played in 992 games and won 723 of them.

723 of 992.

That makes sense when you correlate it to this excellent John Schuhmann statistic.

This is a stat that’s heavily dependent on his teammates, of course, so Ginobili benefited from years and years playing with Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and others. (Seeing how Spurs make up four of the top five, that’s obvious.) But something about Ginobili brought the perfect amount of scoring, leadership, and timely clutch threes to the Spurs lineup.

All this success proves Ginobili belongs in the Basketball Hall of Fame

Ginobili’s Basketball Hall of Fame credentials will be hotly contested because his NBA counting stats are so low, but all of this above proves to me why he belongs. It’s the Basketball Hall of Fame, after all, not an NBA one. Ginobili had one of the most successful international basketball careers in history, was enormously influential to basketball worldwide thanks to his participation on those Argentinian teams, and also accepted a smaller role in the NBA in exchange for winning constantly.

Sure, he scored less than 15,000 career points. But Manu’s a basketball icon.

And he never, ever stopped winning.