Resume: 12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 23.3 minutes, 53% FG (career best), 41% 3 PT (career best), and 87% FT… Team record in games played: 28-6 (22-10 without)… Playoffs: 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 45% FG, 34% 3PT, 86% FT, 10-4 record
Before I go forward with the Manu Ginobili section I just want it to be known that last night my computer broke and I lost all of the work I had done with this Top 50 list, including the write ups for a good number of players. I have no good excuse for not backing up everything I had written. I know that going forward I am going to have to really buckle down since I now have to write about one player every day. I thought about taking the easy way out and cutting down the length for each player to save myself some time, but I’m not that kind of person. Before I started I told myself that if I was going to take on the task of ranking and writing about the Top 50 players in the NBA I wasn’t going to mess around with it. So I apologize if the work I put forth isn’t as good as what I have put out there the past couple of weeks, just know that I’m trying.
On that note, I get to Manu Ginobili. Let me lead off by saying that I have no problems admitting my biases. It’s illogical to think that analysts at the highest level of media, all the way down to bloggers that write for experience don’t have biases. We see that every single day on ESPN’s First Take when Skip Bayless is too stubborn and hard headed to admit that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA (oops, spoiler alert). Instead, he chooses to talk about the San Antonio Spurs, and how Tony Parker should be the MVP, how Manu Ginobili would be the difference maker in the playoffs and how good the picks are that Tiago Splitter sets. I’ve let my frustrations be known with Skip Bayless on Twitter, I’ve even challenged him to an NBA debate a few times with the hashtag #SonnyVsSkip. Surprisingly, he hasn’t answered me yet. The point I am trying to get at is this: I can differentiate disliking a player/team, and giving them the proper credit. I’m here to give Manu Ginobili the proper credit.
I have to admit that aside from his terrible flopping (which may end up costing him thousands of dollars this season), I love Manu Ginobili’s game. He’s been busting his chops since 1998 (when he made his debut on the Argentinian National Team) and has never played for a bad team. Part of that has obviously been because of the guys around him, but there is something to be said of the way Ginobili plays the game. His tenacity, grittiness and unselfish all are qualities that are infectious on the basketball court. I’m sure you’ve played pick-up basketball with a guy who shoots every time down the court, jogs back on defense and doesn’t give a flying eff that you are even on his team. That doesn’t exactly inspire you to play your best basketball. But if you are teamed with a guy who is making plays for other people, diving for loose balls and is legitimately fun to play with, your morale is high and you are enjoying being out there with him. That’s the Ginobili effect.
It was 1999 when the San Antonio Spurs committed a criminal offense when the stole Manu Ginobili with the 57th pick in the NBA Draft, leading to the yearly “Which foreign player is San Antonio going to draft in the 2nd round, stock away for 3 years, and then insert him into their rotation seamlessly” conversation on draft night, and a decade and counting run of success for the Spurs. Even though 2 years later they stole Tony Parker with the 28th pick, there will never be anyone who had a career like Ginobili. He (and a horribly selected USA team, but that is another discussion for another time) was the reason why Argentina won the Gold Medal in 2004. He’s one of only two players ever (Bill Bradley being the other) to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NBA Title and a Euroleague Title. By the way, there are 3 NBA titles to his name. By all accounts, he’s probably the most accomplished foreign born player of all-time. He’s set the precedent for James Harden going forward as the “lefty sixth man who can come in and change the course of any game no matter how many stars are on the floor.” Ginobili brought that to the table long before James Harden was even growing his beard. Last, and certainly not least, the man took out a bat in the midst of an NBA game. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, has ever done that before. Ever.