Manu Ginobili is angry, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry
There is a short list of NBA players who rational minds would advise against angering, as Mario Chalmers found out this week after shouting in rookie Blake Griffinâ€™s general direction whilst standing behind LeBron James.
Kobe Bryant was once on that list, though now it would appear provoking him is sound strategy. After all, dealing with an aging Kobe Bryant hell bent on destroying teams one-on-everyone is still preferable to trying to contain their entire talented frontline. Even if doing so does backfire sometimes.
Manu Ginobili, however, is on that list. As of late he is angry, and opposing defenders shouldnâ€™t like him when heâ€™s angry.
Questioned for pulling his starters with enough time still remaining for a comeback after a disastrous three-and-a-half quarters in New York, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich may have been doing more than resting his startersâ€™ legs, he may have been pissing off Bruce Banner.
After a December-long shooting slump in which Ginobili averaged 15.7 points on only 40 percent shooting, Manu watched furiously from the bench as the final few minutes ticked away in a game that was still technically in doubt.
A night later, Ginobili took his frustrations outÂ on some railing on his way to the locker room after the Spurs dropped a tight game to the Boston Celtics.
Now he merely takes out his frustrations on defenders. In the five games since the New York benching, Ginobili has averaged 22 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
The lesson is, as always, it doesnâ€™t pay to piss off Manu Ginobili (unless youâ€™re Coach Pop).
Since fully taking the reigns of this team last Spring, Manu has been more vocal in correcting his teammates on the court, even as he encourages them off it. He could, if he so pleased, make a fine coach someday.
But there is something else to the Ginobili on display this season. The Argentine has always played with an edge, but this season that edge appears to be focused razor sharp. Perhaps sensing the importance of this season, with a diminishing future, every dribble, shot, and defensive stance has been made with extreme purpose and resolve.
Even as the Spurs cushion grows in the Western Conference, Ginobili realizes their margin for error is dwindling. This early run has bought some time and comfort, but also burden â€” this new opportunity could be the last, and as such, deserves no less than everything.
Popovich, who always has his finger on the pulse of his team better than any other coach in the NBA, appears to have tapped into this, unleashing an angry Ginobili on the rest of the league.