Ginobili was drafted by the Spurs with the 57th overall pick in 1999.
He did not immediately come over to the Spurs, however, opting to continue playing professionally in Italy. He won MVP of the Italian league in 2001-02.
To hear Spurs GM R.C. Buford tell it, the Spurs found Ginobili almost by mistake.
According to Lowe, Buford was scouting the under-22 world championships in Australia in 1997 and had never heard of Ginobili. He told Lowe, "He was like a wild colt out there, just doing crazy s---. Some of it made sense, and some of it didn't."
When Ginobili came to the NBA for the 2002-03 season, few had heard of him. Gregg Popovich tried to tell Tim Duncan that an impressive rookie was coming over.
Popovich told Lowe, "I told Timmy [Duncan], 'This guy is coming, and nobody in the U.S. knows how good he is.'"
"I had heard that before from Pop about other guys," Duncan said. "I was like, 'Whatever. We'll see.'"
Ginobili impressed the Spurs with his toughness, competitiveness, and unique game.
According to Lowe, Ginobili's unique style and sense of rhythm may have been developed both from playing soccer and from a unique experiment. A local Argentine coach gave Ginobili glasses when he was four years old with blinders on the bottom so Ginobili could only look up and to the sides while dribbling. Ginobili told Lowe he was "an experiment."
Word of Ginobili's prowess even spread to Kobe Bryant.
According to Lowe, during a game, Bryant asked Spurs forward Bruce Bowen about Ginobili, saying "Tell me about the white boy."
Bowen reportedly told Kobe, "Oh, you're gonna see. He's not a white boy, and he's got some stuff."
There are tons of anecdotes of Ginobili impressing others with his determination.
According to Lowe, one illustrative story is when Ginobili dove for a loose ball in a practice scrimmage, saved it, then threw it to a teammate for a basket.
Popovich stopped play and asked the team what that play meant. Ginobili said the Spurs would have to play that hard all the time to repeat their 2007 championship. Popovich agreed, then said, "And Manu: It's f---ing September. Never do that again in September."
Ginobili continued to improve as the years went on, and even as he helped the Spurs win, he tested Gregg Popovich with his flashy, risky, improvisational game.
According to Lowe, Popovich at one point confessed to his staff, "I don't think I can coach him." Still, even for all of Ginobili's turnovers or questionable shots, he made too many good plays for the Spurs to do anything but let him play how he wanted.
Duncan told Lowe, "Pop would be pulling his hair out, but eventually we all saw Manu was steps ahead of everyone else."
Lowe has another indicative anecdote of Popovich and Ginobili's good-natured clashes.
During a film session, Popovich chided Ginobili for making a risky fastbreak pass that sailed out of bounds. He warned Ginobili not to do it again.
The next game, according to Lowe, Ginobili was in a similar situation. He got the ball, faked a heave down-court, but scooped it back under his arm. He then looked at Popovich and winked as the bench erupted in laughter.
The turning point in Ginobili's career was when, despite becoming an All-Star, he accepted a role off the bench, knowing the Spurs needed to balance their rotations.
Popovich reportedly asked Ginobili if he would accept the role and would have started him if Ginobili refused. Instead, Ginobili took the role in stride. According to Lowe, the move set the tone for the rest of the team.
Said Buford, "He played as big a part as Tim [Duncan] in building our culture. When Manu Ginobili comes off the bench, it's hard for anyone to bitch about why they aren't starting, or whatever role they are in."
Of course, Ginobili became perhaps the prototype sixth man in the NBA. He won Sixth Man of the Year in 2007-08.
Ginobili averaged 19 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 40% three-point shooting in 74 games that year.
Ginobili's role has limited his counting stats, but his teammates and opponents know the impact he's had on the game.
Former NBA guard-forward Raja Bell told Lowe, "People always ask me who was hardest to guard. I say Kobe. That is what people want to hear. But the truth is, it might have been Manu ... I couldn't figure him out."
Former Spurs forward Matt Bonner said Ginobili's passes would even trick him. Duncan told Lowe that his favorite memories of Ginobili are sitting in "awe" watching Ginobili play.
Ginobili is most renowned for his creative passing. He'll bounce it between players' legs, throw impeccable no-looks, or fling one-handed fastballs right through the defense.
Ginobili has remained a pivotal player for the Spurs, even as he's gotten older.
Though he played a part in the Spurs' 2013 Finals collapse to the Heat, he was big in their redemption the following year, averaging 14 points, three rebounds, and four assists as they won the championship.
The Spurs have changed a lot in recent years.
Tim Duncan has retired and Kawhi Leonard is the new leader of the team. But Ginobili still remains their indispensable sixth man.
Ginobili had throwback game in Game 5 of the semifinals against the Rockets.
He scored 12 points with seven rebounds, five assists, and had the game-winning block on James Harden, giving the Spurs a 3-2 lead.