In case you've missed any/all of the drama surrounding Manu Ginobili, the Spurs, and the Argentina Basketball Association, here's a brief history: after the championship Manu said he'd play in Spain then a physical revealed a stress fracture that could sideline him two months, but Manu expected to heal faster and still play, but reports surfaced that the Spurs and Manu didn't see eye-to-eye about his injury. Then Luis Scola, leader of the Argentine players, threatened to sit out of the World Cup because of how the organization had been mismanaged. Finally, Manu's tests came back inconclusive and that's where we stand.
We don't know what's going to happen, and whether the great relationship the team has enjoyed with my favorite player will take a turn for the worse. Ginobili wants to play, and the Spurs certainly want him to rest. The team holds the trump card and could force him to sit, but would PATFO do that if Manu's heart is set on playing?
What's a fan to do?
I guess I'll start by saying I'm beyond torn over this. It's hard to take sides and it's hard to not take sides. I'm not calling for the Spurs to do anything and I'm not asking Manu to act against his instinctive urge to go for it. I'm a fan and fans root. But it's like ripping myself in half to root for Manu to get his way and play this summer when that would almost certainly hurt the Spurs' chances next season.
I understand what contributor quincyscott said earlier this week:
I just want Manu to end his basketball career happy and fulfilled. If that means giving Argentina one more go, so be it. He has earned it. If his body is sound, he should do it. Pop and the depth of the Spurs will take care of him during the regular season, and he will be fine come playoff time.
And then there's long-time commenter Chilai who went on an epic rant and revealed the attitude of the countrymen cheer for Argentina's national team:
Here in argentina, if you can walk, you can play for your country. It doesnt matter which sport.....an athlete is expected to drag whatever injury to a world cup, suck it in and play. If you get injured in the process....well it was totally worth it.
Which I'm glad he talked about, because it's good to have that out in the open. This environment is the one that Manu lives in when he's home. To them, it's not a Spurs/Manu thing by any stretch. It's an all-or-nothing, nation-before-everything kind of deal. Add to that the fact that Manu knows it's nearing the end for him and he really wants to enjoy the experience of playing with his guys one more time.
For me, it isn't that I care less about him playing for the Spurs than I used to. I really don't want him to play this summer. I want him completely healthy and fully rested for training camp in the fall. I think that's the Spurs' best chance to repeat as champs. But I get why he wants to play. So I'll make myself be ok with it if that's what he ends up doing.
The man has always played as if he were indestructible. His fearlessness is one of the main things that's won him so many fans. And if we are truly fans of Manu, then we have to take the whole package: the guy who gladly plays through injury to help the Spurs win it all, and the guy who wants to risk further injury by playing with his buddies for his country.
There's no separating the two. There's just the one Manu.