Ginobili: Popovich said he 'needed me'
Mark Sobhani / National Basketball Association / Getty

Passing on retirement a week away from turning 40 was not an easy call for Manu Ginobili.

The Argentinian legend eventually elected to return following two months off the floor. He agonized over the decision, and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it more difficult.

"He told me that he wanted me to continue and he needed me on the team," Ginobili wrote in Spanish publication La Nacion, as translated by Jeff McDonald of Spurs Nation.

"If he did not want me, it would have been easier for me."

At his advanced age, Ginobili was unable to deliver on a consistent basis, but the Spurs look to Ginobili for more than just his play. He sets the culture in the locker room now that Tim Duncan is gone, and Popovich leans heavily on Ginobili for his leadership.

The veteran is also capable of delivering a handful of throwback games every now and then. In the playoffs, he provided significant contributions and was trusted to close out games - most memorably when Ginobili made a game-saving block from behind on James Harden.

Ginobili says he didn't want to leave a Spurs organization that continued to embrace him after 15 wonderful seasons.

"I accepted because it is a great honor to be with such a franchise, at 40 years old, feeling important, with people who tell me that they love me and that I am still important to the team," Ginobili wrote.

"Everything I had in mind if I retired, I can postpone for another time. On the other hand, if I retired and took a year (off), I would not be able to compete again at 41."

Ginobili: Popovich said he 'needed me'
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