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Manu Ginobili admires Keldon Johnson’s leadership in one-on-one interview

They also discuss the differences in past and current Pop, Olympic gold medals, and more.

San Antonio Spurs All Access Practice Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Two of the most personable Spurs of all time, one from the past and one from the present, recently sat down for a one-on-one, and it was everything anyone could have asked for. Manu Ginobili and Keldon Johnson went over a variety of topics, such as the difference in Gregg Popovich compared to when the two players first met him.

When Manu first arrived, Pop was sitting at just one championship and under pressure to produce another, so he was much more gruff and hard on his players back then. By the time Keldon arrived, Pop’s legacy was intact, and he had softened to an extent as the circumstances surrounding the team had changed, so while initially a little afraid, Keldon was pleasantly surprised that he was softer and nicer (but still tough enough) than the Pop of legend he had heard about.

They also discussed something they have in common: Olympic gold medals. While Manu was the leader of Argentina’s team in 2004, Keldon discussed how much he learned by being among so many All-Stars while with the US team in Tokyo in 2021, how he saw what kind of sacrifices they made to win there, and how he hopes to do the same here for the Spurs.

Finally, Manu explained how impressed he was with Keldon’s leadership considering he is already leading a team at just 23 years old, while Manu got here at 25, and it would be several more years before he presumed a leadership role. He also admired how Keldon stayed in San Antonio and worked with his teammates all summer, which takes a lot of dedication.

We still don’t know what the starting lineup will look like at this point, but in the past Keldon has said he would take on a sixth man role if that’s what it takes to win. That harkens back to his point in the conversation about making sacrifices for the team, and if that is what ends up happening, he has the greatest sixth man of all time by his side to learn from.

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