This is a translation of Manu's most recent column form La Nacion. Here's the original in Spanish.
I'm a very lucky guy
Well, I'm better now. I'd say I'm feeling well. The hard times are over. It was tough, but three days later, after thinking about all that could have been done better and a couple of sleepless nights, I'm starting to realize all the good things that happened, how hard it was to achieve what we did, how great this season was and how close we were.
That's what hurts the most, how close we were. That feeling that we had it within our reach, that we could grab it but it slipped away. Had we have lost by 25 on Tuesday and then Thursday's game turned out like it did, my reaction would have been to shake hands, congratulate them and end this season thinking that it just didn't happen for us this time. But knowing that we had it in the bag and it slipped away because of some dumb luck made it harder than it would have been.
When it's just you and your pillow and you start to think back on everything that happened, you realize how thin the line between victory and defeat is. They ended up being the heroes, the ultimate champions and we ended up sad and inconsolable, with our heads down. But if you look at how things went down in game six you'll see that we were a shot away (first Lebron James's and then Ray Allen's) from being the champions. If one of those lucky plays doesn't happen we would be the champions. Deep down we can't be so irrational and result-obsessed to think we didn't do things right. Luck was on their side. That defining sequence was like a flip of a coin. That can't overshadow the great season we had.
Just like it happens in the Olympics or the World Cup, reaching the NBA Finals is very hard and a very big deal. You need to win the Western Conference title, but that doesn't really count as a title, so it doesn't provide any comfort. Knowing we were so close, though, does. Right afterwards, it's impossible not to dwell on just how unlucky we were. Two offensive boards, two three pointers, a missed free throw. But I just can't really consider myself unlucky. I played a game seven in the NBA Finals, which is not something a lot of players get to do. I had a great season with a team that it was a joy to play for. And I can't help but think of all the times luck was on my side, like against Serbia and Montenegro in 2002. I'm definitely a lucky guy, so I can't complain.
What about the future, you ask? After thinking about everything so much and going back and forth after the bad times, I feel better now and happy for the season we had, despite the ending, and it's very unlikely I retire. I don't think I'm burned out or frustrated enough with basketball to say "enough." I'm not 100% sure, I haven't really made the decision yet but I just have a hard time not seeing myself come back. At times I get more flustered by some of the bad situations than I did when I was 27 but I still like this sport and I'm very lucky. Lucky because of the pivotal role I play, the team I play for and the coaches I have. I try to not let the trees cover the forest. I really I'm in a perfect professional situation. A moment of anger should not overshadow the good times I have here, day to day.
Since I was not focusing on what's coming next, I don't know if the league rules mark the start of negotiations on the 1st or the 15th of July [Editor's note: it's July, 11th]. It's all pretty recent; I'll have a better notion when the moment comes. But I'm in a better place I was a couple of days ago, psychologically. I don't know what's going to happen but I have the feeling (the Spurs) want me back. I can't know for sure because we can't talk to the franchises yet. In three days the draft takes place and the coaching staff and front office have that on their minds, mulling things over, seeing who might fall. We have the 28th pick.
Since the Finals started I haven't paid attention to the media and I still don't plan to read about it because it would re-open healing wounds but I know there were kind comments about me from fellow players and basketball people. I feel flattered by that and it helps. During the Finals I didn't feel that great, especially in games two, four and six, which were my worst ones. It hurt. But reading how these people think of me helps put things in perspective and heal faster.
It was the longest season. The other times I was finished by the end of May. I'm going back home in a few days and I'm looking forward to it, to seeing my people, being with my family and resting both physically and mentally. And by the end of August we will do a charity run for the foundation.
I'd like to end with a paragraph of gratitude. When I play in the Finals I can be a little stern and I shut out the world. I don't read anything and I don't answer messages because my head is elsewhere. But I want to thank all the people who wrote to me, who wanted to help me and be there for me. I really value all the support I got from people that I couldn't respond to because I couldn't let any of that through my head, always thinking about the team. I'm thankful both to the people who tried to reach out to me and wanted to contact me and the ones that were really concerned but wanted to give me my space and didn't want to bother me. I know who those people are and I really appreciate them.