What follows is a translation of Manu Ginobili's June 17th column for Argentine newspaper La Nación :
I just went through such a unique moment, for various reasons. We hadn't experienced it in so long and we were so spoiled early, winning three rings in our first five years together. We obviously enjoyed those and felt a lot of passion and pride. But this one, after so many frustrations in between and especially last season's extremely painful ending, is special. Because last year wasn't just hard for me for playing so poorly in game six but also for Tim, Tony and Pop.
I went to dinner with them afterwards and I could see it in their faces; the feelings, the emotions, the frustration, that inability to get those two plays of our heads were with us for the entire off season. We ended up having the ideal revenge. You couldn't have planned it better: the following year, against the same rival, playing like we did and winning as convincingly as we did. Right out of a screenplay.
It's such a huge feeling of satisfaction. The next morning I started reading what people wrote and watching videos and it made me feel a little sentimental. I texted with teammates about how great the season had been. That's the kind of thing you do when you are feeling sensitive. Tears start falling in those moments of emotional vulnerability.
I could see what this accomplishment elicited in the faces of my people. It will take a few days before I can really process what this new ring means to me. The people closest to me that couldn't make it to San Antonio told me they watched it on TV, with their children. That really moves me, I feel flattered. I don't know much more because I went straight home and stayed up until four in the morning with my family. I slept an hour, an hour and a half, tops. I was just watching everything that had happened and spending time with my kids, which makes this experience incomparable.
I do understand what this means to the Spurs' history. The interviews help you put things in context, the whole Big Three and Pop thing. We played at an unbelievable level. I'm not a finals scholar or anything because once we are out of the race, I delete the whole season and don't follow what happens. But a team that has this clarity, this forcefulness, this margin of victory against such a great team has to be rare. Because we didn't beat just anyone! With all due respect, the Cleveland team we beat in 2007 doesn't come close to this Miami team. We had a lot of confidence back then. But we came into these finals knowing we were facing the two-time champions, playing their fourth finals in a row. The ball movement, the intensity -- watching it happen from outside was impressive. I really enjoyed seeing the team play like that. I feel honored and proud to have been able to be a part of it.
I got some emails letting me know that it was a pleasure to watch us, that no one had played like we had in a while. We didn't do it to show off. I'm convinced we played well in 2005 and 2007; it was just a different style. Watching the mistakes we made last season, the ones that cost us the championship allowed us to figure out the best way to beat Miami. It made us reach the next level in the execution of the extra pass, a concept that is so important to us. That easy pass to the open man was what we tried to do to become a team in which everyone contributed. Because Patty Mills was a towel waiver last season. Kawhi Leonard was 21 and we had only started to see how good he could be this season. Danny Green, Tiago Splitter--Boris Diaw was a gladiator! Maybe someone who doesn't know much about basketball sees Boris score six, eight, five points and doesn't realize all the amazing things he does for us on the court.
Everyone talks about this big three because we are old and we've been here since the beginning. But because so many others contributed, we ended up playing like a super team. Had Kawhi not scored 20 in any one of the last three games, they wouldn't have known who to name the MVP. Who would have gotten it? They would have had to give it to Pop. It feels so great to play for this team.
Right now I need to savor the moment, relax and enjoy my family, and do all of the things I couldn't do in the past eight months because of the mental exhaustion involved in the process. But there's no doubt in my mind that once we get together next season, start training and playing, we'll be ready to go for it again. That's how this works. We all play basketball not only because it's our job but also because we love it, we are good at it, and we enjoy doing it. And you obviously feel better when you play well.
I haven't spoken to Tim about his future yet but I don't think he will need convincing. Unless something radical happens with the team, I feel confident he will continue to play. I'll probably talk to him at some point to see what he's going to do. But I'm hoping we can keep playing together.
I got a lot of questions about my Argentine flag. My wife saved it, champagne stains and all. It was there for the previous three celebrations and it's kind of a tradition to wear it. It looks like it has some battle scars, it might even look dirty. But those are the marks of a flag that has been with me through every achievement. And we celebrated something great together last night.