What follows is the full translation of Manu's latest column, in which he recounts the events that led to his decision to sit out the World Cup.
A few months ago, after winning the NBA championship with the Spurs, I tweeted "I'm in", in reference to the upcoming World Cup in Spain. The truth is I had finished the competition in good shape, I was euphoric and I wanted to be with the guys one more time. I never imagined what was going to happen next. After that announcement, on a routine exit physical an MRI caused doctors to suspect I had a stress fracture on my fibula. A few days later, after I returned from vacation, a CAT scan confirmed the initial prognosis.
That's when things became complicated.
The Spurs automatically asked me to sit out the tournament, but I didn't make much of it at the time. I understood the logic behind their concerns but disagreed about the time line for recovery the franchise's doctors advised for in their report. I looked for second opinions from specialist in the area who told me the fracture was very small and the 40 days between the last game against the Heat and the first day of the national team's training camp were more than enough for it to heal completely.
As it's well known, I had agreed with the Spurs to do a new MRI and CAT scan on the 25th, to see how the injury was progressing. The local doctors were optimistic and shared their good news with me. It was looking good at that time, but we still needed to see what the franchise had to say about these new results.
There's a clause on the FIBA/NBA agreement about the participation of NBA players in international competition that reads: "Players are not authorized to play or train with a national team when there are reasonable medical concerns about that participation putting the player in substantial risk of injury, disease or other damages."
That clause complicated things for me because it gave them legal power to forbid me to play the World Cup.
The answer wasn't what I was expecting. They said that given the images they had received, they couldn't conclude that the injury was cured completely and therefore there were still "reasonable concerns." So they were still forbidding me to play.
So far, that's a chronological account of what happened.
I thought I had only one card left to play, which was to ignore the Spurs' request and look for FIBA to sort of mediate, to determine if the concern was "reasonable" or not, which is a pretty subjective matter.
It was the logical next step. Even if it would cause some problems between the franchise and I down the line, it was the last resort. But here's when a more delicate situation, and definitely more important for me, came into play. To make sure the bone was healed, I had spent 42 days without training like I usually do, without running or jumping, so as to not put any stress on the fibula. And that caused me to go into training camp in pitiful shape. When you are 37 years old, it's not easy to start from scratch and catch up, so we started to ramp up the preparation once the test results were in.
I started physical therapy in the pool acceptably well but when I moved to the treadmill, that's when pain started to crop up, especially in my right ankle and left foot. I did a lot of physical therapy and stretching and it seemed like the pain was slowly subsiding. But when I started to push my body harder this Wednesday, running and shooting, at the end of the training session the pain in the area of the stress fracture in the fibula re-appeared. That basically crushed any expectation I had to come up with some sort of plan to play in Spain, since asking FIBA to mediate was pointless considering the original injury clearly wasn't fully healed.
I'm very sorry for the bad news. I'm sad and disappointed. I wanted to say goodbye to the national team on the court, with my friends but it's not to be. I'll be with the team for as long as I can, trying to contribute from the outside, supporting them through everything, like I'm sure you will both in the friendlies in Tecnópolis and Bahia Blanca and through the TV during the tournament.