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Manu Ginobili breaks down the Spurs season: “We had to deal with it”

In his first La Nacion column since the end of San Antonio’s season, Manu answers a lot of the questions that 2017-18 generated.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

What follows is a translation of a column written by Manu Ginobili, which ran in La Nación newspaper on April 28.

I’m starting to get used to the season being over. It usually takes a while just to get used to resting, Without the tension of playing, the minor pains you didn’t use to feel due to the adrenaline of competition start to appear. The head relaxes and the body starts digesting everything.

I think our performance this season could be qualified as acceptable. We had higher expectations early on. Coming off a season in which we almost won 67 games and ending up winning 47 and struggling to make the playoffs is a hard pill to swallow. But we know we were affected by unforeseen events. That always happens in the league, but we hadn’t experienced it. It was our turn this year and we had to deal with it.

Despite having a tough season, we were a couple of wins away from the fourth seed. We were unlucky with the opponent we drew, but even then we faced a team missing one of its b est players, Stephen Curry. Obviously it had a bigger impact on us to not have Kawhi available than Curry’s absence had on the Warriors, because they have more options. If you look at most teams, though, many struggled to keep their stars on the floor. Under those circumstances, others were able to adjust better than we did, so we can’t really use Kawhi’s absence as an excuse or say it was the only reason why things ended like they did. I think we could have had a better season. We played noticeably worse after the All-Star game, and that complicated things.

We didn’t have a great series against the Warriors, but we did have a few good performances. Game 2’s loss was a big blow, because we felt like we played well and made and effort but couldn’t get the win. Game 3 was an uphill battle, emotionally. Once you are down 3-0, it’s hard to come back. Despite having a great Game 4 and an acceptable Game 5, we were always aware that our chances were slim.

I know a lot of people speculated about the reason why I threw the ball in the air after that last loss against Golden State in Oakland, but the truth is I did it because I was upset. We had let a game that we thought we could win slip away. We had made a huge effort, we were close, and then I had that turnover on a pass to LaMarcus and Durant made the shot he had to make. In the NBA, the repercussions from punting the ball into the stands are severe, so I chose to toss it in the air. It was nothing more than just a moment of anger.

At the individual level, I played more and had more responsibilities that I thought I would have, but it was all due to injuries and such. When I signed on to return I thought my involvement in the offense would decrease, but not having Kawhi around forced us to rely on more people who could make decisions and create. That’s why I used more possessions than last season. In that area, I think that I did better than I thought I would and I’m more than satisfied with my role on the team, since I came in with lowered expectations.

Physically, I had a tough time in the playoffs, but over minor things, like a bruise or some discomfort in my Achilles tendon. I can’t really complain because only for six games in the entire season I didn’t feel well enough to play, due to a quad contusion. I thought I could have played in all the others. It wasn’t really a season in which I had issues with my body. That’s a big plus, because being healthy enough to compete, not just winning, helps a lot when it comes to being positive and in a good mood. I didn’t want to just suffer through the season, and I didn’t.

The situation regarding my possible return is not different from other years, really. I’m not a fan of making impulsive decisions. I have no need to rush, so I’ll take a month or two to figure out where my head is at and how my body feels. I want to see whether I’m ready to start a new preseason, whether my body struggles to get moving after a longer summer than I’m used to, whether I feel like traveling all over the country, leaving my family behind.

For now I’ll just try to rest a lot and focus on my family, so I don’t think I’ll pay much attention to the rest of the season. I have to say that I do have a predilection for Golden State on one side and Philadelphia on the other, because of the affection and friendship I share with their coaches. I always wish Brett Brown the best, because he’s a great friend. He also has a team that plays well, with a young, dynamic and unique core. So I’ll be pulling for them. And Golden State is coached by Steve Kerr, who I hold in the highest regard, and has players I admire. Curry, Durant and Thompson are amazing. They are fun to watch and you end up feeling appreciation for what they do. In a way, all three have talents that were never seen before, at least since I’ve been here. And watching them play together is exciting.

For the original in Spanish, click here.