What follows is a translation of Manu Ginobili's column, published on March 19th in Argentine newspaper La Nación
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We are still waiting for the birth of our child here, with a little over a month to go. Many's (Manu's wife) belly is steadily growing and she has been staying very active--it's been a perfect pregnancy. We haven't decided on the birth day yet, since it will come during the first round of the playoffs. It will be a scheduled cesarean section, like it was with the twins, so we will try to have it with three days between games, so I can be there that day and for 24 hours after he is born.
As for the team, being at the top of the standings once again is surprising, in a way. It's true we had a great start of the season but for a while it seemed OKC was going to run away with it. But after winning ten in a row and some unexpected losses by the Thunder and the Heat, we found ourselves leading the league. I always try to downplay the importance of having the best record, as I don't think it changes things dramatically for us. But it's still commendable to be at the top and to be the first team to get to 50 wins.
No one really talks much about us--we are under the radar but always in the mix. I read this was the fifteenth season San Antonio has at least 50 wins, which is a great achievement. I was on the team for 12 of those seasons and I can say it's amazing to be in this position after so many years and with many of the same teammates. It's something we are all happy about but we also understand that there's a long way to go. It really doesn't mean anything since we once lost to the eight seed when we were the first.
Our great success is rooted on the Popovich-Buford tandem on the coaching-front office department. And by how fortunate we are to have Tim Duncan, one of the best 50 players ever, with us. He's truly a role model: humble, hard-working and never one to cause trouble, something that is unusual among franchise players. Since he joined the team the coach has been the same, then I came on board and we achieved a level of stability that's not the norm in professional sports, especially in such a global environment as the NBA. Two other examples come to mind: Manchester United, with (legendary coach and manager) Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs and Barcelona, which changed coaches but maintained the same core of players. We are aware we are part of something special.
The other day we were told that Tim, Tony and I had become the second winningest trio in the history of the league. When you find out about stuff like that, it helps put things into perspective. But then the it's tip-off time and there's not time for musings. We have to go out and play and achieve our goal of going as far as we can.
The first four games of the streak were nothing out of the ordinary, we had our ups and downs. But on the last five or six we've actually played really well. The fact that every player that suited up recorded a point, assist and rebound on Friday against the Lakers was just a product of the circumstances on a game that was over after a quarter and a half, but also a sign we are at a high level, not playing down to our rivals despite their records, moving the ball and defending well.
It's true we still have a negative record against the top teams, but we've recently played great at Chicago and almost flawlessly at home against Miami. We also beat Portland, which is not at the level it was earlier in the season, but is still a dangerous opponent. And you have to come out and give your all against teams like Utah or the Lakers, because if you don't, you can get beat like Oklahoma did a few days ago.
I was a bit surprised by the slump from Indiana. We only really glance at the East. We'll give it a closer look at the end of the month. If we reach the finals against Indiana or Miami, we'll see how it goes. But for now we have enough to worry about in the West. I do keep and eye on Pablo (Prigioni's) stats and the Knicks' record, to see if they can make the playoffs. Atlanta is dropping in the standings.
To summarize, it's a really good moment for us. We are enjoying it while at the same time trying not to blow it out of proportion. On the grand scheme of things, this is just a temporary streak. We have tough tests ahead of us, an away game against Golden State, then Houston and, later in the month, Indiana. We've gone through most of our games against the top teams already. Of our remaining 16 games only five or six are really tough ones. Our streak helped us get our confidence up. There's still a long way to go before the playoffs, exactly a month. A lot can happen before that. We have to define our post-season identity but it seems we still have a ways to go.
As for me, the first ten days after my injury I was a bit down. I carried myself with extra care and was hesitant. But in the ten days after that my body changed and I now feel stronger, able to get to the rim more easily. I'm looser, feeling as well as I did at the beginning of the season. I'm taking more risks and that means I'm scoring more. It's not like Pop asked me to; he'd never say something like that to anyone. It comes down to taking what the defense gives each one of us. If it's there, go for it.
You might be wondering about that situation with my sneaker from a few games ago. Nothing like that had ever happened to me, not even close. It was my fault. I had a couple of pairs of shoes in boxes on my garage, without air conditioning. And here in San Antonio the temperature goes from 40º to -2º [C or 110 to 28 F] and that's bad for the material. I used one of those pairs and that's why what happened, happened. At least I got a story out of it.
Lastly, a couple of days ago I wrote a tweet mentioning it was my fifth year using their service. I thought it was noteworthy not because I've been using Twitter for five years, but because that technology changed us all. Nowadays it feels like life is not real unless it's shared through social media and that's not the case. Not long ago we lived without them. I thought it was interesting to note that. It's hard to believe something that has become so ingrained in our culture and has produced such a huge generational change has been around for only five years.
(H/T to nicolaspursfan88, who let me know the original column was posted)