Manu Ginobili made himself available to the press 15-minutes before the tip and offered good news. Here's the full transcript.
Ginobili's opening statement:
Bottom line, it was a very unfortunate situation and play, it got hurt badly and nobody expected anything like that and I had to sit for a month. It was very painful. The first week was very tough, but after that I started to get better. There was not much experience with this because it never happened before in the franchise, the doctor never had an athlete [with this condition], so we were figuring it out, but a few days ago he told me that I'm cleared to do whatever I wanted to do, as long as I don't feel pain or discomfort afterwards. I'm feeling great, I practiced a little bit and I feel good, I've been lifting, [doing] conditioning, and as far as I know I'm ready to play. I need to get into better condition, of course I haven't played for four weeks and you know the team in general is always very cautious, they want you to prove to everybody that I'm in a good playing shape, but I already played a little bit and I think I'm progressing great and I'm looking forward to playing next week. I'm not sure if it's going to be early in the week or later in the week but I'm pretty sure it will happen. So far after the two practices I've had no setbacks and everything is going great as I said, and I'm happy to be starting to think about playing. For a week I didn't care about playing, I was struggling, I was in pain and I didn't care. But you know how the human mind works and after two weeks or three weeks I started to run and feel good, and feeling more confident.
Was there ever a time you thought that was it?
Not realistic, but I thought ‘I don't care, I just want to heal, I just want to feel good,' it was bad, so the first week coming back to play was not a priority. When you have a problem... I don't want to be dramatic, but I was struggling, so you know playing... I just want to get healthy, get well.
How much did the uncertainty of the injury trouble you, in that the doctors didn't have experience with it?
Well it hasn't happened here, ever. So our doctors didn't have a lot of experience. Nobody really had a similar thing that happened to me where they had come back to play in three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks, We didn't know. It was a matter of just taking the time to clinically heal first and then progress slowly. Those were the instructions from the doctor and that's what we've done and we're about to hit four weeks here on Thursday and everything is great and he told me to go ahead.
Have you had a physical practice?
Not with my teammates because we were coming from a long road trip and Pop gave them a couple days off, so I couldn't play against them. I played against the video guys and they tried to push me around a little bit, but it was nothing like a real game. As soon as the team has a practice I'm going to try to get in there and have a more realistic practice and from there, we'll see. But I'm very optimistic, I'm not hesitating, I'm not in doubt, I'm not afraid. I'm protected in the area, so I'm doing great.
Can you give details on the injury?
I thought it was pretty clear (laughs). I didn't think I would have to explain it. Usually when that happens it hurts for a little bit but after three minutes you're back at it, but it was three minutes, five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half, and I was still in the same level of pain, so we went to the clinic and did an MRI, they said we need a surgery and it's gotta be right now. When they told me it's going to take a month or a month and a half, or "we don't know," it was unbelievable. But once it happens it happens. You've got to face it in the most optimistic way and follow instructions because you don't know what's happening. It was a very unfortunate situation, it was a perfect storm for this type of thing. But it happened and that's it.
Where does this rank among all your injuries?
I would say the top-top. The most painful, for sure, and really the most unexpected, because who doesn't get hit in the nose or an elbow or a twist an ankle or knee, whatever. But a situation like that, do you know anybody? It's very unusual.
Will you be wearing a protective cup now?
Yes, yes, for sure. For a while. That's the only thing, and I've gotta get used to that. It's something we don't deal with, but thousands of athletes do that every day, so I guess I'll figure it out.
Did you watch a replay of the injury?
Very briefly and two weeks afterward. At the beginning, I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to listen to the doctor, I didn't want to see it, I didn't want him to explain to me what he did [in surgery], I was sick. After two weeks I could start joking a little bit about it, then I could watch it, but at the beginning it was awful.
Do you feel you'll approach the game differently now, maybe be more cautious?
With protection, I wouldn't think anything can happen. I don't know, once I'm there, if I'm going to stay to take a charge, I don't know. I don't know if my instincts will kick in or if I'm going to be more worried, I don't know. As soon as I start practicing and competing, I'll figure it out.
Is the timing of the injury a silver lining, in that it allows you to have fresher legs for the stretch run?
Considering the circumstances, it was a great time. That's the thing that makes me feel a little better. February is the worst month of the season for me. I got to stay home and had time to recover. I used the seven, eight days of the All-Star break too, that in a different time of the season could've been four more games. Obviously the team is missing me so bad... (laughs). They're 11-1 without me! Maybe they don't want me back! No, the team is doing great and I'm very proud of them.
Why have you been able to recover faster than people expected you to?
They really didn't know. The truth is they didn't know. It's not something that happens that often. They told me six weeks from the beginning and I said, "Okay, six weeks," but once we went to week three and we did the studies and everything was "You're looking great, you're fine, go, progress," and that's what we did and it's progressing.
Do you consider yourself unlucky for having suffered this and did it cause any regret about returning this season?
Briefly, but the truth is for the first four months I was having a blast, I was having a great time. So, if I considered myself unlucky for a play like that, I'd be a complete idiot. I'm a very lucky man. I've been here 15 years, winning championships, doing what I like doing with great people, so I can [take this] I'll be fine.