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Manu Ginobili’s personal career highlight: Spurs title in 2014

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The 2014 Spurs — which won 62 regular season games, then got revenge on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals to win the franchise’s fifth title — played arguably the most beautiful ball-movement, sharply-executed basketball the league has ever seen. By the end of that season, the Spurs were a force of athleticism and high IQ players who just shredded opponents.

With the door officially being closed on San Antonio’s “big three” era after the retirement of Manu Ginobili, that is one team worth looking back on with pride. Ginobili does. He met with the media this weekend in San Antonio and was asked about the greatest highlight of his Hall of Fame career, and it was that team — and how it responded to the crushing loss to the Heat the season before in the Finals — that he talked about. Via ESPN:

“I was carrying a very heavy load in my bag for what happened the year before,” Ginobili said. “Being able to leave that aside, feel that I helped the team to accomplish that goal, was huge. A very important moment of my career. We did it with a great team, a team that played great in a fun way, altruistically. And I was already older. When I got here and we won the first championship, I didn’t appreciate it. I didn’t know what was going on, how hard it was. At 37, and after a couple of frustrating moments where we were very close, that was very fulfilling and a big joy.”

Watching Ginobili play was a joy. Talking to him as a media member was a joy, he was always gracious. The league will not be quite the same without him.

Manu Ginobili points to moment he knew NBA retirement was final

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Former San Antonio Spurs wing Manu Ginobili is done with the NBA. That much is for certain.

Ginobili addressed the media on Saturday, confirming his decision to remain retired and that last season would be his final in the Association. Speaking to reporters, Ginobili said that he needed to take a couple of weeks to gather himself after he announced his retirement before he answered questions and faced the media.

Most interestingly, Ginobili said there was one specific moment when he returned to the Spurs practice facility that confirmed to him that he wasn’t going to come back to play for San Antonio in 2018-19.

Upon arriving to the PF, Ginobili saw some of the younger Spurs players working out, yet didn’t feel any connection or motivation to wanting to do the same.

Via ESPN:

“I took last season mentally as my last season,” Ginobili said. “So every place I went, every situation, I kind of knew it was going to be the last one. But I left the door open, just in case. Slowly, the door started to close more. I couldn’t see my body going through that kind of grind again. I felt that I had a good season, that I left everything I had in that previous season both physically and mentally.

“When I came back here and I came to work out a little bit, to lift, bike or whatever, I saw Bryn [Forbes], I saw Dejounte [Murray], I saw some of the guys working out and preparing for the season. And I was so far from that. That’s when I said, ‘For sure, this is it.’ There was a little bit of that door opened, but it closed pretty quick. I couldn’t see me getting ready for another 82-game season, 65 in my case.”

Ginobili said that the decision would stand, and Coach Gregg Popovich of course was respectful of his wishes. Ginobili said Popovich tried to change his mind but only for a moment, “He briefly tried to convince me. He saw me very convinced. I guess he saw it right away. He respected my decision, of course, and we had a great talk.”

The 37-year-old Argentinian veteran said that one of his favorite moments from his career was the 2014 NBA championship, and that he would cherish memories from all over his 16-year NBA career.

Ginobili ends his run in San Antonio as a four-time NBA champion, two-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA recipient, and as the 2007-08 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

LeBron James to produce show about first female head coach of men’s college team

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We heard news earlier this week that LeBron James will be moving forward with a TV show in development at NBC centering around the life of Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons.

Now, it appears that LeBron has a second show in the works, also at NBC.

LeBron’s second show is tentatively called “Hoops” and centers around a the first female coach of a men’s basketball team.

Via Deadline:

In “Hoops”, after years on the road as both a star player and coach in the WNBA, Stevie Decker jumps at the chance to return to her alma mater to become the first female head coach of a men’s college basketball team. But coming home isn’t easy as her career took a toll on her family, and the school she loves is embroiled in a sex scandal involving her mentor, a legendary former coach.

Of course art mimics real life, and there are real ties to what happening today in sports with this pitch. As far as the NBA is concerned, Becky Hammon has been at the center of conversations about who will be the first female head coach in the NBA. Hammon has also been in the running for men’s college coaching positions before.

As a sign of the shifting tide, women are popping up in men’s basketball more and more lately. The Dallas Mavericks hired Jenny Boucek to be an assistant coach. Hammon was the first full-time assistant coach in the NBA. Karen Stack Umlauf helped coach the Chicago Bulls’ summer league team. Nancy Lieberman became the first female to coach a men’s professional team in the United States when she was appointed head coach of the D-League’s Texas Legends in 2009. Stephanie Ready coached in the D-League in the early 2000s.

In any case, this idea has some real potential. The concept alone typifies LeBron’s socially conscious nature, and it will be interesting to see if the show actually makes it to air.

U.S. rolls past Uruguay in FIBA World Cup qualifying, 114-57

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LAS VEGAS — The U.S. is another step closer to qualifying for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Frank Mason III scored 16 points and the U.S. beat Uruguay 114-57 on Friday night in the Americans’ first game of the second round of qualifying for next year’s World Cup. The Americans took command with a 15-0 run late in the first quarter, and finished the game shooting 61 percent.

Chasson Randle scored 15 points and Derrick White added 14 for the U.S., which is 6-1 in qualifying. Results from the first round carry over, and Friday’s win puts the Americans in a very strong position.

To be assured of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in China, all the Americans need to do is finish among the top three of a six-team group that’s also composed of Argentina (6-1), Puerto Rico (5-2), Uruguay (4-3), Panama (3-4) and Mexico (3-4). After rolling past Uruguay, the U.S. has a two-game lead over fourth place with five games remaining.

For the first round of qualifying, the U.S. went largely with a roster composed of G League players. There was much more of an NBA presence Friday, thanks to it still being the offseason.

Of the 11 Americans who got into the game, nine had some NBA experience – that group combining for 259 appearances. And they made sure the outcome of this game was never in doubt.

It was 28-8 after one quarter, 56-24 at halftime. Diego Garcia’s layup midway through the opening quarter got Uruguay within 10-7, and that was about the lone moment of hope for the visitors.

Bacon and Moore each had four points in the 15-0 first-quarter run, and the Americans kept total control the rest of the way.

QUALIFYING FORMAT

There are three “windows” for second-round games – one that started Thursday and runs through Monday, another going from Nov. 29 through Dec. 3, and then the final one from Feb. 21-25. G-League players will represent the USA in those windows. The World Cup begins Aug. 31 and NBA players will return for that.

UP NEXT

Uruguay: Hosts Mexico on Monday.

U.S.: Visits Panama on Monday.

Report: Spurs preferred Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in Kawhi Leonard trade

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Summer in the NBA was a little odd this year. Things happened quickly with LeBron James heading to the Los Angeles Lakers, and after Kawhi Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors, things sort of settled down. Everyone seems to be waiting for the summer of 2019.

Meanwhile, conversations are still abound when it comes to Leonard and where he ended up this year. Eventually, the Raptors were able to put together a package around DeMar DeRozan that put Leonard in Ontario for the upcoming season. Beyond? We don’t know about that yet.

Many were underwhelmed with the haul the San Antonio Spurs reigned in for their former No. 1 player and Finals MVP. Leonard obviously tanked some of his trade value by letting his desires to leave Texas (likely for LA) but DeRozan didn’t seem like fair value.

That left many to speculate what kind of deals the Spurs could have put together, and perhaps which they turned down. Even further, which deals might San Antonio been rebuffed on?

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Sixers turned down San Antonio’s feeler for a deal involving either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. Rumor had it that Markelle Fultz could have been on the table, but Lowe shut that down.

Via The Lowe Post at around 28:00:

“There is no evidence that the Spurs wanted Fultz. I’ve been told the Spurs never asked for Fultz, and actively didn’t want Fultz, and in fact wanted one of the two big guys.”

The conversation between Lowe and Sixers guard JJ Redick was an interesting one, with other tidbits coming from the sharp-shooting veteran. Redick went into detail about how he felt the media treated Fultz last season, and also mentioned that he thought LeBron heading to the Lakers had been years in the making.

There has already been some reporting that Leonard has purchased property in Toronto rather than renting, which could be a sign that Leonard wants to stay. It could also be that he’s getting into the real estate speculation game in Canada’s largest city. Who knows with that guy?

Perhaps the most unfortunate part of Leonard heading to a team like Toronto, where it is unclear whether he would like to stay, is that we have to have much of the same conversation we had about him as we did the entirety of this past season. That storyline was boring to start with, and it’s stretched beyond the possibility of any kind of satisfying answer.

Good luck with that one, Raptors fans.