When San Antonio Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili retired after more than two decades of pro basketball this week, Lionel Messi was among those overflowing with gratitude for Ginobili's legendary NBA career.
The international Barcelona and Argentina soccer star met Ginobili at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as Marca reported, and he took to Facebook this week to lather praise onto the four-time NBA champion.
"Thank you, Manu Ginobili, for making us enjoy basketball so much," he wrote. "It's not going to be the same without you on the court."
Messi has actually been crowning Ginobili for years, since long before the longtime hoops standout called it quits.
As Marca's Charlie Brooke noted, the footballer contributed to Ginobili's Argentinian "The Lord of Talents" biography in 2013, and inside, he wrote that he wanted to be known as "the Manu of football" after hearing that someone had deemed the Spurs star "the Messi of basketball."
"I know that several NBA players wear the No. 10 shirt in my honour and that is something very special, as well as hearing praise from superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant," he said back then.
"But none of them struck me as much as Manu ...
"It makes me very proud to hear a journalist say that Manu is the Messi of basketball; in fact they should say that I am the Manu of football," Messi wrote.
After announcing his retirement on Monday, Ginobili left the NBA after 23 seasons, 16 of which he played in San Antonio. A European standout before his move to the NBA, he finished with numerous All-Star and All-NBA honors and helped Argentina win gold at the 2004 Olympics.