Simply a case of Manu being Manu

SAN ANTONIO — In the jumble of head-scratching, mystifying plays that have turned Gregg Popovich’s white hair a lighter shade of pale, Manu’s Ginobili’s most famous one doesn’t stick out.

In his formative years, Ginobili provided Popovich with many teaching moments, but the outcome of the discussions was sometimes more maddening than the flamboyant approach Ginobili found so inviting.

“He would make passes that were unnecessary in certain situations and he could do it in a more efficient manner,” Popovich said. “I would go to him and say ‘Manu, we don’t need that right now. Here’s the score, here’s the time, I’m not sure what can we do about this.’”

Ginobili speaks three languages fluently, but he would look at Popovich like the Spurs coach was speaking in tongues.

Change the way he plays?


With every bit of diplomacy that he could summon while still remaining true to his basketball values, Ginobili would explain the situation.

“We can do nothing,” Ginobili would earnestly tell his coach. “I am Manu and this is how I play.”

Although Popovich remembers multiple occasions for such a conversation, Ginobili laughs today and says, “It only happened once. I was upset and I shouldn’t have said it. It was after a very awkward behind-the-back pass and I was frustrated. But he understood that’s really how I felt the game. It was just part of me.”

(To see the original column on, click here.)

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