Longtime NBA vet Manu Ginobili has often been called one of the fiercest competitors to play the sport of basketball.
The San Antonio Spurs‘ fiery guard is so passionate and committed to the game that he was even willing to play for his home country of Argentina in this summer’s 2014 FIBA World Cup with a slight stress fracture in his right leg. He played through this injury during the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, where the Spurs won the series in five games.
When his injury was first announced to the public, many were surprised. After all, it was Ginobili’s one-handed slam dunk over Chris Bosh that completely swung the momentum of Game 5 in the Spurs’ favor, where they would coast the rest of the game and capture their fifth title thanks to his utter fearlessness. You would not expect to see a play like that from a guy with a nagging leg injury.
The first thing that might come to mind in terms of the Spurs being smart to hold Ginobili out is the Paul George injury that occurred in a scrimmage game between Team USA a week and a half ago. Granted, that devastating injury sent a lot of shockwaves through the league, especially to NBA executives who were already worried about their players getting hurt. However, injuries happen, and they can happen at any random point in time. It is part of the game and every team knows that.
The main reason the Spurs decided to deny Ginobili permission to play this summer is quite simple: the wear and tear he has put his body through over the years has taken its toll on him. Not including last year, Ginobili has missed a total of 142 regular season games with 28 injuries over his otherwise very decorated career.
It would be a shame for Ginobili to beat up his body more during this summer and come to the Spurs in ragged shape, after he should be rewarding himself for the comeback season he had. It was only a year ago when many were questioning if he might be “done” after a less than impressive 2013 NBA Finals, when the Spurs lost in seven games to the Heat. Ginobili is also on record saying that he was beat up during that time and was worn out from the long season. He also wondered if he would play again.
Even at the age of 37, where most players would have been out of the league or largely just a shell of themselves, Ginobili remains an impactful player.
The Spurs are already widely considered a dynasty. However, if there was one last thing they needed to do in order to make it completely official, it would be to repeat as champions. The key to that happening is a healthy, rested Ginobili.
While he might be wishing he is on the court now to represent his country this summer, he might very look back on this moment next June and thank Gregg Popovich once again for doing what was best for him in order for the Spurs to have the best chance possible at chasing yet another ring.