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Manu Ginobili: San Antonio's Favorite Son

Tim Duncan has five rings, Gregg Popovich is a coaching legend and Tony Parker balances grace with unbounded energy and bursts of speed. But still, the city of San Antonio belongs to Manu.

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs beat writer Jeff McDonald took to Twitter early on New Year's Day to lament an email he'd received regarding his coverage of the Spurs' improbable victory over the New Orleans Pelicans the night prior.

Newspaper men don't have the luxury of extended time to write on the topic they choose. They are expected to compose their story and submit for publication within minutes of the final buzzer and I admire the talent required to write an extended recap of the game. (Particularly when I spend fifteen minutes deciding whether to use the word "lead," or the more avant garde and exciting variation "lede.")

So in many ways I understand Jeff's frustration. Tim Duncan's (alleged) tip-in with .7 seconds remaining was a big deal and will long be remembered as the storybook ending to a storybook 2014. It was perfectly logical for Jeff to center his story around the play that brought most of us out of our chairs and scrambling for the remote. But San Antonio is not a logical town.

San Antonio is home to four military installations, including the heartbreakingly precise and awe-inspiring cemetery at Fort Sam Houston. The dedication to the craft and discipline found in the military mirrors the philosophy that Gregg Popovich has embedded in the organization and is on display on game nights by the fundamentally boring number 21.

Fort Sam

San Antonio is home to beautiful rolling hills and magnificent,elegant homes in neighborhoods found centrally in the King William District and further out in the expansive Dominion and beyond. The recently opened Tobin Center and the wonderfully ornate Majestic Theater contradict the city's reputation as home only to those whose idea of culture is to pour Big Red into faux crystal glasses while devouring menudo after a long night on the town. Those more refined are drawn to the perfectly manicured matinee idol wearing number nine.

King William

But at her core, San Antonio is a city that shuts down for three weeks in April to party. San Antonio is a city that allows major freeways to be commandeered by exuberant fans after her Spurs win a title. San Antonio is where the night sky fills with fireworks and gun shots shortly after midnight on New Year's Day, the constant barrage of exploding Chinese powder continuing into the wee hours of morning.

It's that spirit, that imbibed sense of machismo and a gallant, bullfighting temperament that guarantee Manu Ginobili's mantle as San Antonio's most beloved, ad infinitum.

His stubborn refusal to conform endears him to our city of over 2 million. For every remarkable three, or for every dazzling pass, there seems to be a head-scratching turnover or subpar performance. But even in those instances where his best intentions don't translate to a success, his effort can never be questioned. Like those legendary bullfighters before him, Manu will either fell the beast or be gored. In both instances the display is spectacular.

Last season, in the midst of the Spurs' magical run, I wrote an entire article based on a Ginobili missed dunk during a meaningless regular season match-up against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Manu is a brilliant basketball mind with a body that can't always keep up these days, yet he stubbornly trudges on. Hell, even his hairline is under attack from every flank, but he pays no mind. Manu Ginobili is a stubborn frustration, and for that he will arguably always be the most beloved Spur.

His stubborn machismo is woven into the fabric of this city and all that live here. That's why a guy like Jeff McDonald gets flack for omitting a timeless Ginobili performance in favor of a jaw-dropping tip-in to force overtime by an all-time Spurs great.

Manu scored 26 points in the win over the Pelicans on New Year's Eve off the bench. He also attempted to call a time-out after Tim Duncan secured a rebound with the lead and under a second to play in overtime. Inexplicable. Eccentric. And forever San Antonio's favorite.