Things to be thankful for: The nightly art of Manu Ginobili's assists

Happy Thanksgiving Pounders! We Spurs fans have so much to be thankful for; the terrific start to the season, another run at the O'Brien trophy for the Big-3 - who have been winning and wowing us for over a decade together, the transformation of Boris Diaw, the realization of Marco Belinelli, Tony Parker in his prime, Tim Duncan's SEVENTEENTH season in Silver and Black, the establishment of Patty Mills in the rotation, and another year of watching Manu Ginobili pass the ball.

Yes, the Good Guys finally lost last night after an 11-game win streak that lasted for 20 days. Even so, the Spurs are still tops in the West, have avoided the injury bug early on, and the team has played pretty solid ball through a sixth of the season. So £ers, if you're feeling down after last night, perhaps PtR can bring you some holiday cheer.

Hopefully, though, this finds you having an enjoyable holiday. Mine will undoubtedly end in a rousing game of Scattergories (the closest thing to a tradition as there is at my family's dinners), where voices will be raised, someone will question the intellectual capacity of another, I will emerge victorious, and all throughout laughs will be shared by all. It's actually a remarkably fun time.

The beginning of this season has been tons of fun for Spurs fans. Not only are the Spurs enjoying a fantastic 13-2 start, but the bench, aka "The Foreign Legion", "Bili MiNelli", and the little used, but excellent - "The Brass Section" - are an absolute blast to watch, and at any time the game might turn into a party where the passes flow like drinks, the threes drop like needles, and the fun had by any combo of guys is palpable.

Anyone who still thinks, after actually watching them play, that the Spurs are boring doesn't like basketball, because watching the second unit is basketball bliss. They play like a bunch of old friends having a great time in a pick-up game, but they possess the skills and athleticism of pros.  The passing is routinely brilliant, and everyone is always willing to make the extra pass (or shoot more, in Boris' case), often in spectacular fashion. With Boris, Manu, and now Marco all highly capable assist men, even Patty is good for a couple of assists to go with his threes and all-out defensive effort. It seems that these guys really like playing with each other, and if they're having fun, we probably are as well. The guy who really brings everything together for the bench is the same guy who's been running the second unit for most of the last decade.

There is only one Manu Ginobili. He's one of those rare, wholly singular players. He's like Thelonious Monk. Rare geniuses whose unorthodox techniques to their crafts were developed out of a need to execute what they were trying to accomplish, which required reworking established techniques and inventing new ones. No coach will ever say, "Model your game on Manu", just as no piano teacher would ever teach Monk's technique-even if they could. Sometimes the result of these unorthodox methods can be jarring, like a turnover or a missed chord, but far more often the result of always reaching and improvising is something unique and beautiful. There are tens of thousands of pianists, but no one has ever sounded like Monk, and likewise, our whirling dervish could be picked out of game tape with the players replaced by silhouettes almost immediately.

Almost every night we are treated to a generous helping of Manu magic. The Argentine makes even the simplest passes in his own unique way, and by far are my favorite to watch. We have been lucky to have been able to enjoy Manu for hundreds of games, and thousands of passes. So here you go Pounders, in what would be a great career highlight reel for most players, these are just over 40 of Manu's first 56 assists of the season, accompanied by the instrumental to Cantaloop by US3. So get another piece of pie, turn up the volume, and enjoy. From your source for all of your Manu Ginobili loving and San Antonio Spurs news, Happy Thanksgiving!

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