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Enough About Manu Already

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Western Conference Finals Game 3 Vs. Los Angeles: Spurs 103, Lakers 84 (2-1)

I never thought I'd say this in a million years, but I'm getting burned out on all the Manu Ginobili coverage on ESPN.

Like, for cereal.

We lose a tight Game 1, and all the reporting from the San Antonio perspective is that Manu had an awful night, Manu was badly hobbled, and if Manu played anywhere near average the Spurs would've won. All of these bulletpoints were basically honest.

But then we lost Game 2, by 30 points. And again, the Spurs focus is on Ginobili. They got killed because of Ginobili. It wasn't competitive because of Ginobili. How can they win a game without Ginobili?

Now I felt, we were starting to careen off the rails a bit. When your team loses by more points than it could score in an average quarter, it's not one guy's fault. Pretty much everyone stunk out there. Gino took eight shots. He makes all eight, we lose by 12. Perhaps the media should've looked a bit harder for a story angle after Game 2. Old, boring and slow, old, boring and slow would've been original, right?

Anyway, onward and upward to Game 3. Pregame, everyone is discussing Manu. How hurt is he? Does he feel any better? Will he do better tonight? It felt odd. It's like the media was rooting for him to have a good game, just so the series would be competitive.

And a good game he had, for sure. 30 points on 15 shots, a bevy of threes, and bingo bango, it's a series again. After the game, the lead story: Manu Freakin' Ginobili. The guy with two rebounds, one assist, zero steals and zero blocks. The guy who could've been Allan Houston or Reggie Miller or even - dare I utter it - Ray Allen.

Manu had a good game. He didn't have a monster game, by any means. Perhaps we're spoiled. Maybe I'm ungrateful. But I've seen Manu have awesome games. Manu's awesome games are some of my best friends. This, ladies and gentlemen, was no awesome game. It was merely good.

I thought Timmy was our best player. Manu flipped the switch. He was the ignition, definitely. He turned the tide, changed the momentum, had those two bombs when it was 15-8 LA, all those things. But he still wasn't our best player. He wasn't the guy who had a 20-20-5. He wasn't even the guy who finished +26.

Still, after the game Duncan and Parker's contributions are essentially ignored and it's all Manu, all the time. Lakers vs. Spurs have become Kobe vs. Manu. J.A. Adande wrote that Timmy passed the torch to Manu .

The guy one year his junior.

The guy who can hardly jump anymore.

"The torch."

Insanity.

Is it a Lakers thing? All of a sudden the Spurs are a lot more exposed because we're playing the Lakers. I remember last year playing the Conference Final against the Jazz. Nobody on ESPN made a big deal about anyone having a big game or a poor one. It was just another playoff series, getting the amount of coverage you'd expect from Magic-Raptors in Round 1. We play the Kobester's Krew though, and it's lead story stuff, with several features on the side. It feels odd and overexposed.

Worse, it feels forced.

What happens if the Finals is Spurs-Pistons II? We'll have a Finals with less media coverage than the round preceding it. The story, again, will be the crappy TV ratings and the low scores. It will be how we're the death of the NBA and not mainstream. In 2005 David Stern tried to sell Manu Ginobili - the dunking Manu Ginobili, no less - to the United States, and by all accounts it was a failure. In 2007 they tried to prop up Tony Parker as the counterbalance to LeESPN, and again, it was a disaster. A little French guy (Promoting the French! To Dubya's America! Brilliant!) who doesn't dunk, doesn't shoot threes and whose three favorite English words are, in order, "Unbelievable," "Attack," and "Mode."

Basically, they focused on the guy because of who he was sleeping with. That kind of strategy might work with Monica Lewinsky. It works less when the point guard is boffing a mediocre actress on an even more mediocre TV show and not the most powerful human being on the planet. And by that of course I mean Oprah. Tony should be all up on that.

My point is that no matter how much attention the Spurs get, it never ever seems to be for the right reasons. It's never the team. It's never their accomplishments. It's never proper historical perspective. It's never a sociological question of why people don't like them. The media will never examine their own hypocrisy, admit to their past mistakes. People don't like the Spurs because for 11 months a year you're subliminally and systematically told not to. Then, for two weeks every odd year, you're told, "No, they're cool. Appreciate them."

It just doesn't work that way.

So now, when the Spurs are hyped, it's superficial. The Manu Ginobili Show. The same guy you won't invite to the All-Star Game because he's not as marketable as Brandon Roy. The guy you won't invite next year because he's not Tracy McGrady or Monta Ellis or whomever.

This attention, this adulation, it's fake, it's phony, it's bullshit and it will all disappear the nanosecond the Spurs have played their final game, whether that's this series or next. Spurs fans see right through this stuff by now. We are truly the only ones out there thinking about our team in any kind of proper context. We're the only ones not blowing what Manu does, good or bad, out of proportion because our memories extend beyond one playoff series, one month, one season.

Whatever Manu will do, he's done it before. The team has won championships before. They've been eliminated before. We want them to do well, we want them to win, sometimes desperately so, but it's not out of greed or some ungrateful "What have you done us lately" mentality that makes us this way. No. It's because we see the team for what it is. Weak. Frail. Old. Thin. Slow. We know them better than they know themselves and we know the last hurrah is near. We just don't want the show to end.

It's stupid and alien for us, ESPN's sudden appreciation of the day-to-day activities of Manu Ginobili. It doesn't register, doesn't translate. We've been thinking about the guy for years. He's ours because you rejected him in the first place and we know you plan on dumping him again so we won't subject him to that ridicule. Spurs fans have to fiercely protective of Manu (and Tony) because the media is a sick, creepy, incestuous vampire, ready to suck the soul out of you and discard the dry husk that's left over.

Me? I want Fab Oberto to go for 30 and 10 tonight, just to confuse the fuck out of everybody.