Manu Ginobili is one of the greatest international players of all time, and it has been a treat to watch him play for Argentina in these Olympics. We’re nearing the end for the 39-year-old Ginobili, who signed only a one-year deal with the Spurs this summer.
Want to better understand Ginobili before he retires? Read this fantastic profile of him by Zach Lowe of ESPN. It’s chock full of analysis and anecdotes, including my favorite:
Toward the end of an early September 2007 pickup game involving Spurs and visiting free agents, Ginobili dove through three players to retrieve a loose ball and flung it to a teammate. That player scored, and Popovich, watching, stopped the scrimmage even though it wasn’t over.
He gathered everyone and asked them: “What does that play mean to you?” Popovich told them Ginobili wanted to win more than anyone on the floor, and that if the Spurs wished to repeat after their 2007 title, they would all need to play that hard. Popovich walked away, and everyone thought the speech was over. Suddenly, he turned: “And Manu: It’s f—ing September. Never do that again in September.”
Again, I HIGHLY suggest reading Lowe’s story in full. The examination of the evolution of the Gregg Popovich-Ginobili relationship alone makes this worth reading, and there’s plenty more fun stuff.