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It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Blurst of Times? What? All you monkeys are fired!

Knicks 112, Spurs 107 (OT) SA: 35-17 (1st in Southwest)

I'm a mess right now. I've had trouble sleeping. I've had trouble breathing. I've had trouble doing anything but refreshing the same two or three websites over and over and over again, desperately looking for any new, viable information regarding one Emanuel David Ginóbili. I know I'm known for being vague, subtle and maddeningly cryptic, but the guy is kinda sorta the most important person in my life that I've never personally met. (Wait, he signed a piece of paper for me before a game once. Does that count as meeting?)

Unfortunately, I only knew what the rest of you knew. It sure would be nice to have some inside sources in the organization, since I'm a supposed decent blogger with a decent readership (a Z- list celebrity) but even though I did a little digging, no one was willing to help me.

Tuesday morning, a few hours before the Knicks game, the Spurs announced Manu wasn't on the plane, that he would be out that night, and in most likelihood out for the remainder of the Rodeo Road Trip. The team said he would be going through a battery of tests that day and Wednesday. Tuesday night Kori Ellis and her husband LJ over at Spurstalk were mighty mopey, giving sad hints here and there, but nothing definitive. Wednesday morning the husband-and-wife duo confirmed everyone's worst fears and posted "Ginobili could be out for the season" on their site, citing three unnamed sources. Wednesday night both Jeff McDonald, the Spurs' beat guy at the San Antonio Express News and Yahoo Sports reported that Ginobili would only definitely miss the rest of the road trip and that his injury is in no way a season-ender. Most of today, Thursday, there was news on local radio that the Spurs would have a press conference and the speculation at Spurs Talk once again was that the team didn't want to announce the severity of his injury until the trade deadline passed and that once it was clear that the team couldn't do anything, they would declare that Manu had a very serious injury.


Sad, contemplative rock superduper star Robert Smith of the Cure.

(Many years ago, when he was skinny).

Finally, about an hour ago, the full story has come out. We can all exhale, sort of. He is injured, and as we could've guessed, it's not some little contusion that'll cost him two games and not some broken ankle that'll cost him six months. It's somewhere in between, a "stress reaction" of the distral right fibula, a non-weight bearing bone of his lower right leg, somewhere between his calf and ankle. Supposedly just two or three weeks of rest is enough to make this owwie go away though obviously there is a risk of it turning into a full blown Yao-esque stress fracture. I'm not a doctor, obviously, so I don't even know, besides rest, how the trainers can even deal with something like this. Painkillers? Cortisone shots? Anti-Inflammatories?

It goes without saying that even though it's quite likely we'll see Ginobili return this season, we'll once again be in the same boat with him that we were toward the latter stages of last season and in the Olympics, where everyone knows he's less than 100% and that one of his ankles is a "ticking time bomb" to borrow a line from one of his Argentine doctors from last summer. Even if he somehow miraculously survives the rest of the season unscathed, my hunch would be that another surgery is in the offing once the Spurs' season ends.

Far more troubling to me, one of the biggest Manu fans on the planet, is that even I can no longer argue the criticism that Ginobili is, at this stage of his career, fragile and injury-prone. The Spurs have done everything they could to protect him. They kept him out the first dozen games this year, they've kept his minutes down, and still after only thirty odd games, it appears that Manu's body is failing him again.


Determined, badass '05 Conn Smythe winner Manu Ginobili of the Spurs.

(Many years ago, when he had lots of hair and dunked on everybody.)

Any resemblance, or am I crackpot?

What more can the team do?

My guess is that when Manu does return Pop will play it ultra-safe with him and he'll play 25 or so minutes the rest of the way until the playoffs. I highly doubt we'll see him play both ends of a back-to-back the rest of the year. Obviously the team is thin, and they have so many weaknesses, that it's going to be difficult for them to win enough games to get a high playoff seed under these constraints, but Pop will do what he always does and go for broke in the playoffs.

What does this mean for Manu's future? Obviously a lot depends on how he plays in these playoffs (assuming he's healthy enough to and that the team qualifies for them) and how he plays in '09. I don't see him being handed an extension anytime soon. If the Spurs do offer him a new contract, it will not be for the max but it will, in all likelihood, be for more money than anyone else is offering, and it wouldn't surprise me if no one else even sniffs around on him. Some team in Europe will probably offer Manu way more money and it'll be interesting how he reacts to that. I really don't see him ever playing for another NBA team unless the Spurs FO does something truly insulting.

All of these hypothetical scenarios will play themselves out eventually. All we can do is watch and wait. In the meantime all we can do is castigate the management for failing to make any moves in the trade deadline and bitch and moan at how awful the team's playing.

If you thought the Raptors' game was depressing, it was nothing compared to the Knicks game. The perimeter defense was horrible and they allowed far too much penetration to Nate Robinson (I can't think of five more annoying players in the league) and others. How we can let the scattershot Knicks shoot 48% is beyond me. If they had superior ball movement causing us trouble with perimeter rotations it'd be one thing, but 25 of their 45 baskets were unassisted, meaning they just flat out beat us in isolation a bunch of times and/or got too many second chance buckets. The bigs did not help the smalls who were beaten and the communication was non-existent. Right now we are a below average defensive team, any way you cut it.

Offensively we finished with 107 points, but I'm not quite sure how. Duncan, Thomas and Bowen played well, but everyone else was a trainwreck. Finley was completely awful at both ends, unquestionably our worst player, and I have no idea how he got 33 minutes but Hairston got 0. One would think Hairston's rebounding, inside game and athleticism could've given the soft Knicks trouble. I've resisted blaming Pop the whole season, but I simply cannot let him slide with this one. He blew this game.

Mason had 20 points, but on a so-so 17 shots, and his D was nothing to write home about. Tony was absolute dog poop (5-of-20) on offense, the latest in a two week stretch of stinkbombs from him, but at least he compensated for his miserable offense by bearing down on Duhon and Robinson on defense and making a lot of hustle plays.

Oh, sorry, I was thinking of what Manu would've done if he had a crappy shooting night. Tony did the complete opposite and stunk at both ends. I can't believe Pop is not bitching him out publically for his pathetic, indifferent defense. Whatever he's doing privately, if anything, is not getting through to Frenchie. I haven't been this down on Tony in a long time... The only reason I'm not being harder on him is because the team has so many other problems.

Anyway, just because the team hasn't made any moves at the deadline, all hope is not lost. They got Kurt last year after the deadline, didn't they? These waiver deals happen all the time. There are still rumors that the team can get 'Sho back after he gets a buyout from the Pacers. That wouldn't give us anymore rebounding, but at least he can guard the basket somewhat. Right?

Oh god, this is what it's come down to for us. We're hoping to get Rasho back. ::sobs softly.::

The good news? There is none, except that Manu isn't out for the year. We're 1-6 (the one win a double overtime game at Minnesota where TP had 55) so far with Tim and Tony but no Manu. We actually have a better record with Tim playing by himself. Maybe we should give Tony a couple of quality weeks with Eva, eh?

No, I don't mean that. I think. (sigh).