Manu Ginobili walked off the court in June an NBA champion.
The toll that pursuit took on his 37-year-old body is now preventing him from the only team he loves more than the San Antonio Spurs.
Ginobili will not play for Argentina at the FIBA World Cup because of a stress fracture in his right leg that has bothered the Spurs guard since the playoffs.
The Argentine Basketball Federation announced the decision on Thursday, prompting Ginobili to post a tweet in Spanish saying he was “so sorry” that he couldn’t compete with his beloved national team. The World Cup will be played starting Aug. 30 in Spain, and Ginobili’s loss is a big blow for Argentina’s chances.
Ginobili played through the injury while helping the Spurs beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. He has long relished international competition, but the San Antonio Express-News first reported earlier this week that the Spurs requested Ginobili not play in Spain because of the lingering issue.
The Spurs have good reason to be concerned.
In 2008, Ginobili injured his ankle in the playoffs and then played for Argentina in the Olympics. In Beijing, Ginobili did further damage to the ankle that ultimately required surgery and contributed to an injury plagued 2008-09 NBA season. Ginobili missed the playoffs that season and the Spurs were defeated in the first round by Dallas.
Ginobili also had a subpar season in 2012-13 after playing all summer long for Argentina in the London Olympics.
He had some vintage moments in the finals against the Heat in June, including a dunk over Heat star Chris Bosh in the first half of Game 5 that sent the home crowd into a frenzy and the Spurs rolling toward their fifth championship.
But he was playing through pain, and the injury did not heal enough for Ginobili to be able to compete in Spain.
Skipping the World Cup will help Ginobili recover and be ready for next season with the Spurs, but it has to be a tough pill swallow for the proud veteran.
Ginobili has played internationally for Argentina since 1998, including the nation’s thrilling victory over the Americans en route to winning the gold medal in the 2004 Olympics.