A few years ago, my father took me to a Rangers baseball game for opening day. It was a beautiful spring day. A day in which I was supposed to be in school and my father was supposed to be working. In fact, I’m pretty sure 50,000 people called in sick to work that day. I remember the crisp blue sky and the green sea of grass like it was yesterday. The fresh cut was in the air; along with the smell of hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn. You could hear the buzz of the stadium, the crackle of people walking on discarded peanut shells, and the ever so sweet crack of a bat. It was a perfect day for baseball. We sat in our seats and joked about how the Rangers were, for once, tied for first place. I remember mentioning to my dad, “It would be sweet if we could catch a foul ball. ” He said with a smile, “If one comes near, we’ll get it.” Four and a half innings in and it finally happened. A foul ball was hit directly to us. It landed in our row, three seats away from my dad. I yelled, “Get it!” and watched as my dad made a break for it. Except, he wasn’t quite as fast as I had once remembered. He struggled to get out of his chair and came up empty handed. This punk kid had jumped down two rows and snatched it at the very last second. I will always remember the look in my dad’s eyes as he turned around to come back to his seat. I looked at him, and he looked back at me with a hint of embarrassment. “I’m slow”. Those two words hit me like a freight train. My dad, who had always been invincible in my eyes, was now on the decline. In that moment, I realized that my dad was getting older. I hated the thought of it. It was as if storm clouds had rolled in on our perfect day.
As I write this, the shockwave of Ginobili’s loss is rippling through Spurs nation. There’s no easy way to stomach it. No way to spin it and no use in denying it. This loss hurts. Bad. Today, I was reminded of how I felt on opening day years ago. Our team is getting older; our team is breaking down. All the signs are there. We all watched as age crept up on the Admiral. We joked as it finally caught up to Robert Horry. And this year we’ve seen firsthand how age has affected our foundation. Tim has been hobbled by tendonitis in his knees. For Duncan to actually admit how much his knees are bothering him speaks volumes. I cringe just watching him handle the ball in the post and the sight of him with those blue knee braces leaves me with an empty feeling in my gut. And then there’s Manu. Our human crash test dummy is finally falling victim to the night in and night out beatings his body has taken. It’s like watching your favorite pet slowdown in their latter years. You lie to yourself and try not to think about it. But the reality is there. His ankles are giving out on him. His wheels are wearing thin. Rehabilitation now takes longer and he’s a greater risk to himself every time he takes the floor. Now most players learn how to adapt their game to better suit their lack of mobility. Like Finley, they become jump shooters. This is what Manu will eventually be reduced to. I fear we will never see the same Manu again. It’s been an entire year and the only change in Manu’s ankle problems has been from the left to the right. Go ahead and ask Kurt Thomas how much ankle injuries will change your game.
At the start of next season, Manu will be 32 years old, entering into his 14th year as a professional. He’s will also be in the last year of his contract. As much as it kills me to say it, I feel that our FO needs to trade Ginobili while we can. He’s not getting any younger and his best days are four years behind him. We need some promising young talent to carry the torch into the 10’s. I’m sure I’m going to cause a shit storm by even suggesting this but before you send me to the guillotine or BAN me from PTR, think about the possibilities. One that comes to mind is a trade for another young talented player in his final year of his contract… say … Chris Bosh? A 6-10’, 230 lbs, 25 year-old power forward who’s been a double-double machine over the past month and who on multiple occasions has publicly stated that he will not resign with the Raptors. Forget the fact that he’s from Texas and that’s where his family is located. Instead focus on him having the opportunity to finally play with a contender. How do you pass up playing alongside Tim Duncan and learning from the best? Humor me and think about the possibility of trading Manu, (Bowen or Fab) and the rights to Tiago Splitter for Chris Bosh and trash (Maybe Pops-Mensu?). Seriously, something like this is not that far fetched and is very plausible. If you don’t believe me please check it out for yourself. http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine
The option of trading Manu has to be on the table. You can hate me for saying it, but it’s time.