Steve Kerr And Kevin Durant Talk About Manu Ginobili's Importance To The Spurs


[RealGM] – “We were a vanilla team,” Kerr said. “Very successful, but we were like a football team that just ran the ball every play, played great defense, won the special teams battle. There was nothing exciting about us. Manu came up and sort of shook up the organization in a good way, shook up Pop, changed the way he looked at the game. We needed that creativity, that fire.”

“Changed the culture of basketball, in my opinion, even if it doesn’t get talked about,” Kevin Durant said. “Changed what the Sixth Man (award) means. A lot of people think he’s from Europe, which he’s not. South America. But all the guys I played with from Venezuela, Argentina, all the guys in the league just bring that toughness and that fight. Manu’s one of those guys that means more to the game than people think.”

I absolutely love seeing this, mostly because I’m a Manu stan. Ever since he joined the Spurs, he was one of my favorite players to watch, mostly because he was lefty but also because of what Kerr said. He brought this different look to the Spurs and added some flash to a Spurs team that was quite in fact vanilla.

Ginobili was drafted by the Spurs in 1999 but stayed in Italy for the next few seasons before coming over and joining the Spurs in the 2002-03 season. Despite an injury to start his career, his impact was immediate as he found a spot backing up Steve Smith and averaging about 10 points per game.

After winning the title in that first year, Ginobili’s offense really took off as the Spurs had an ORtg of at least 107 in all but one season since he joined the team. The Spurs never had an ORtg of 107 under Popovich. A large part of that was Ginobili coming off the bench as that 6th starter and really pushing tempo. This is what made Pop such a great coach. Ginobili made him change his style of play as the Spurs moved from playing through Duncan and Robinson to play through Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

Ginobili, at 40 years old, played in 65 games this year and continues to be in the Spurs rotation. Durant and Kerr are right though. Ginobili’s importance to this game from a historical standpoint isn’t necessarily talked about enough. He’s not going to be listed in top-50 players or anything like that but he will be in the Hall of Fame when you look at his overall career. He was awesome for Argentina, winning a gold medal. He was a top-3 player for the Spurs during their run. He was awesome when he played over in Italy and that deserves to be talked about. Remember, it’s the basketball Hall of Fame, not NBA Hall of Fame and that’s why I think you’ll see Manu there.

Today could be Manu’s last ever game, something that most people thought was going to be last year – the Warriors included. When Manu got subbed out late, Durant was clapping, Curry stepped away from the FT line to give him an extra second to soak in the standing ovation. He came back for another year though and there’s a chance he could play a 17th season next year.

In the meantime, enjoy these old Manu clips: