What follows is a translation of an interview Manu gave Argentine newspaper La Nacion.
At 35, Manu Ginobili is at his peak. He has a couple of days left before pre-season and he's making the most of every minute he gets to spend with his family, but the schedule is currently foremost in his mind: "this weekend we travel to play Miami and Orlando." About the French invasion the Spurs are going through he jokes "for all I know we'll keep English as the official language, but we also have three Spanish speakers, because De Colo has a Spaniard girlfriend so he speaks the language. Along with Tiago and me, that's three".
Last year while in Mar Del Plata Luis Scola said "They keep reminding us we are older, but every year I see Manu playing better," and it still stands. Ginobili is coming off a stellar turn at the London Olympics and is gearing up for his 11th NBA season.
La Nacion: You recently commented that the longevity of careers is extending. Is maturity a bigger asset now?
Manu Ginobili: It's not only that, but also science has advanced significantly. Players take better care of themselves and there are more ways to extend your career. It's a combination of many things. It used to be inconceivable to think that a 38 year old player, like Steve Nash or Jason Kidd, could run as much as those guys do. They take great care of themselves. Technology and science have come a long way and the two aspects complement each other.
LN: How do you take care of yourself?
MG: Resting. Being responsible in my off-time. Nutrition is important; working out to prevent injuries, staying in shape. Plus you have people that take care of you. At least in this franchise, they take great care of us. They try to not overwork us. Pop is especially great in that area. Every chance he gets, he rests us.
What's is your goal for this season, personally?
The same it has been for the last five: contribute to the team while staying healthy. I had a great run last season but I missed 40 days out of a 120 day season. That made it harder for me and it affected me psychologically, at first. I hope to have no setbacks and play the whole season without a hitch. I feel in good enough shape to be able to stay at this level for my last years. The goal is to keep helping the team stay among the top six in the league.
Will you keep coming off the bench?
I think so, just like last season. Except for the first four games, I always came off the bench and only went back to starting in the 5th game of the Conference Finals. So I think that's good. I feel comfortable doing it and I think it will stay that way.
How can the team improve on a good season like last year?
Last season we were playing really well and then Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw joined and helped us get even better. But it was in the middle of an atypical season. Having them around from day one to work on things we couldn't get to last season will be great. Last season we pulled through using our experience and knowledge of the game. But Kawhi Leonard barely trained with the team. We had the lockout, two pre-season games and then the season started. We know each other better now. Things should be more stable this season.
It's been over ten years for you playing on a team with a stable core. Not a lot of players get to enjoy that stability.
Totally. It's very rare. I've been sharing a team with two guys in Tim and Tony for eleven years and in the national team I debuted on 98 and since 99 I've shared the team with Chapu (Andres Nocioni), Luifa (Luis Scola), Leo Gutierrez; Pepe (Sanchez) was there too for most of it. We are talking about a 13 year career and that's very rare and a great accomplishment. That's why the two times I had a chance to leave San Antonio, I chose not to. It's like a big family and I don't want to leave. Sometimes you have no choice, but I did and I decided to stay and they decided to keep me.
This is the last year of your contract but it seems different from other times, like there's no anxiety.
Yup, zero. The two previous times had their uncertainty and relevance for different reasons. This is the least important of the three. The two previous times I wanted to get an extension as soon as possible, because I didn't want to have contract stuff in my head, have that be a variable. I wanted it done ASAP but it kept popping up all the time. This year it's not even crossed my mind.
So you haven't even have discussions about it.
It hasn't been discussed.
Is it like an old relationship, where there are things you don't need to talk about because you know it will be taken care of?
I'd think so, just like it happened with Tim last season. The topic was not discussed at all. It was resolved in two days, as soon as it could be. But there weren't even signatures required. They got together, talked it out and came to an agreement. I'm in no rush to deal with and have no interest in discussing the subject.
What teams do you think had the best off-seasons?
It obviously comes down to two teams. First, the Lakers. If you add Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to an already great team, it's pretty clear that they are the one team...
It's been suggested that the Lakers don't have a good bench.
That was the case before. But a great team added two incredibly talented players.
And the second team?
Brooklyn also had a major overhaul. It's impossible to predict how good they will be because they haven't played a single game together. But they made a lot of signings and could be a playoff team. I'd put them in the top 4 in the East. And then you have Miami, which added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. They have guys like (LeBron) James and (Dwyane) Wade who can get to the rim, so surrounding them with shooters is vital. And the ones they signed are not bad at all, don't you think?