The other shot

by

I promised to write a short post about Manu Ginobili’s almost-triple. I keep putting my hands to the keyboard, write a couple sentences, delete everything, and start over. I am not sure why. Maybe it is because I am emotionally spent, still shaking after watching one of the best basketball games of my life. I keep looking at my girlfriend and asking, “Did that happen?“, and she keeps nodding, with a constancy and an evaporating patience that says that yes, I am that lucky.

We are that lucky.

Or maybe it is because it feels like a scant tribute to a man who scored 33 points in the Spurs’ first do-or-die game of the season, hitting more triples that the rest of the team combined, still wearing a blue-and-black elbow brace from Hell. Ginobili does what he can to help you forget he’s hobbled by introducing amnesia with every hard dribble to the basket or every off-balanced but timely jumper. It was a game-long show to remember, and simply applauding the final trick seems somehow inadequate. But what a trick it was.

Describing the play is beyond me, but I will try, because it deserves the attempt. McDyess inbounded the ball with 9.4 seconds left on the clock and the Spurs down three. A 3-pointer to tie the game, and only Ginobili had proved accuracy from distance tonight. All eyes were on Manu, but he still shook loose with those long, fast steps of his, and ran past Dyess with hands open and willing. But then the veteran misjudged the pass, because all the savvy in the world will not turn a big man into a guard.

Mayhem.

A Grizzly slapped it away from Manu but McDyess snagged the loose ball from the fray, looking to mend his mistake. 7 seconds. McDyess threw a pass that hit Marc Gasol’s arm, and the ball bounced high where he fought and tipped it again, right into Manu’s hands. 6 seconds. Manu, the same who has learned the secret of being in the right place at the right time, or maybe the secret of making his own right places and his own right times, faked left, three opponents around him, then turned around, 5 seconds, and dribbled past Gasol toward the corner. Corner jumpshot, falling away, 4 seconds, still falling away, and finally the ball goes up, up, down and in. It was beautiful.

The most amazing aspect of sports, of basketball, is the ability to triumph when everyone expects you to triumph, to excel even when you are supposed to. We saw Manu’s triple before it happened, in our minds and hearts, the same we’ve seen many times before, but the reality managed to trump our fantasy.

But tonight the gods of narrative decided to show off, so that Manu 3-pointer was actually a 3-pointer in everything but the cold hard-reality of unfeeling rules. Manu’s foot was on the line. Ginobili’s heroic 3 was deemed a prosaic 2. After a pair of Memphis free throws, the clock wound down to 1.7 seconds, and the Spurs were again down three. Manu inbounded the ball, this time, and his pass was everything that McDyess’ had not been. Neal received the ball and was immediately doubled – and for a split second I knew what was going to happen. Neal would pass quickly back to Ginobili, inexplicably open at one of his best spots beyond the arc, and he would nail the 3 and carve another indelible mark into the hearts of every fan watching. That’s who Manu Ginobili is. We knew it was coming. When the cosmetics are abandoned, Manu’s function is simple: he is a crafter of memories – the best sort of memories.

Neal took the shot instead, chasing down a little immortality of his own.

I have no complaints.

  • Gonosu

    Very nice article, thank you for sharing

  • Hicksman

    Great write up!. Had goose bumps all the 4th had to work and I had avoided the score all day to watch on league pass 6hrs late what a great game!!!
    THE DRIVE FOR FIVE IS ALIVE!!!!!
    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Len

    Pop deserves some credit here. Through game 4, he had been decisively outcoached. Then he goes a draws up a game winner with the season on the line. Makes me wonder again, what the heck happened in game 3??

  • TimSplittman

    Impressive writing!

  • Iloveyouspurs

    “chasing down a little immortality of his own.” Loved it. I think that every spurs fan in the planet feels emotional like a woman right now.

  • http://twitter.com/PolterChrist Manu Ginobili

    I really hope that last part was a joke. Otherwise, I hope somebody kicks you in the nuts really hard today.

  • Tom13

    Nice article. So you think Neal still the show? :-) someone should learn it from MANU.
    and 1more thing. Free Tiago! Please, Pop, please…

  • Iloveyouspurs

    It is obviously a joke… but really, how can you feel after such a game? I thought I was witnessing the end of the Duncan era and suddenly a miracle takes place. Now, I get all contemplative while reading these articles…
    Getting emotional isn’t all that bad… and neither is being a woman.. so stay away from my nuts :D

  • Mark B

    You know, after the referees blew the call near the end of the first half and couldn’t review it because it wasn’t a quarter ending play, I was hoping the same rule applied at the end of the game. Because watching live on TV, I knew Manu’s foot was on the line, the shot was a 2, and the refs missed the call. I wanted the spurs to win so badly, I didn’t care if it was because of a bad call.

    But the refs huddled up, looked at the replay, and got the call right. And the Spurs made the best of the last 2.2 seconds. Even better than I was wishing for.

  • http://lauri8.tumblr.com/ Lauri

    xoxox

  • Chris

    Speaking of the calls, I thought they were decidedly in Memphis’ favor last night. I’ve been fine with the refs all series, but they single handedly kept Memphis in it in the 1st half. Oh, and the Spurs are absolutely unable to draw charge calls anymore. I know Memphis was whining in Game 1 about flops, but now its ridiculous. Real charges are getting ignored; Memphis is able to bully, clutch, grab, and everything else to their hearts content. Gasol & Tony Allen should have fouled out of each and every game – by halftime!

  • Rob

    Yeah. I’ve noticed a little bias towards the Grizzly players. They push off a lot in the post. Knocking players out of position AFTER a shot is taken and not getting called for it.

  • Anonymous

    David, that was one of the most incredible games I have ever seen in my life! Almost as exciting as the ”Memorial Day Miracle” simply because we as Spurs fans, have become spoiled by the success this team has achieved in Small Market USA. I officially vote for the nickname of Gary “Nails” Neal to exist along the lines of Manu ”The Argentinian Assassin” Ginobili in the hallowed tomes of Spurs lore! GO SPURS GO, BEAT MEMPHIS DOWN ON FRIDAY!

  • Anonymous

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That would cause a Mangina!

  • Anonymous

    Also, last night’s game proved that Jim Rome’s Show provides ZERO KARMA, as he had Tony ”The Thug” Allen on his show and they promptly got their collective heart ripped from their chest!

  • Junierizzle

    You guys are killing it tonight with these articles.

  • Titletown99030507d

    He also called a time out when they took the lead late in OT at the right time to secure the focus on the team as the seconds remained. Bout time.

  • Titletown99030507d

    That’s funny, but true.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Just kidding.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Nah I really meant it.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think he’s freed Tiago. You mean free him some more.

  • Titletown99030507d

    How about the one at the near end of the half where Neal got stuffed by Arthur and still made the shot on his own stuffed rebound. Actually what happened (saw the replay over and over) as Neal was going in for the lay up O.J Mayo slapped his head nasty and distracted Neal on his way to the rim and got abused by Arthur and no frikin call man. But he still got the ball and scored. Didn’t you see him running back up court cussing at the ref. and he got no tech for it either.

  • Titletown99030507d

    How about the one at the near end of the half where Neal got stuffed by Arthur and still made the shot on his own stuffed rebound. Actually what happened (saw the replay over and over) as Neal was going in for the lay up O.J Mayo slapped his head nasty and distracted Neal on his way to the rim and got abused by Arthur and no frikin call man. But he still got the ball and scored. Didn’t you see him running back up court cussing at the ref. and he got no tech for it either.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Those players have been pushing ours all series long and the one I noticed doing it a lot is Gasol. He get’s away with a lot of shit. He started getting his share of the calls towards the end but he should have fouled out earlier.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Also, Mine’s in that order too. But add some BBQ sweet breads (thymus glands) to that.
    They some good tasting cut of meat. (Beef or Pork)

  • Titletown99030507d

    Can’t stand Rome. That radio show I once listened to reminds me of some cult leader running a sports talk show. Such a gimmick. And the boneheads on their knees bowing to him so ridiculously. I laughed and changed the channel.

  • WH Silver

    Hobbled indeed. Note that he is appropriately wary of reinjuring the elbow should he employ his patented ball-hugging finishes. No surprise then, that this has resulted in some sloppy pass-offs. But each game has been a building block. He’s just starting to dip into his toolbag of plasticene, serpentine drives; he’s just about figured out their 2′s closing rhythm on his 3-balls (i.e. perimeter shots, come on, we already know he actually has 3 balls) to optimize the step-back-and-fire/draw contact. The 2-step hop-drop back is loaded. We’ve learned to live with his Houdini-passing (see above) and the Grizz have been stifling in that regard, particularly when it’s slow in developing and the clock is winding down. But with Splitter seeing more time, creating spacing, and being a nice big moving target in the P&R, we may start seeing a wee bit more of those precision baseline kickouts to (hopefully) Neal and Hill. So hobble on, Super Gino. We await your next inevitable amazing feat.

  • http://twitter.com/ambivalence Yu-Shan Fung

    In a season where our offense

  • http://twitter.com/ambivalence Yu-Shan Fung

    In a season where our offense far outpaced our defense, I’m almost tempted to say we were lucky that the shot was a 2 instead of a 3. Yes, it took a defensive lapse from Battier and a cold-blooded shot from Neal to force overtime. But had Manu’s shot been a 3, we would need our oft-lacking defense to hold the Grizz from scoring without fouling. Yes it was only some two seconds left on the clock, but with Randolph and gang making clutch play after clutch play all series, there’s no saying we would even get a shot at OT. In the end, when our season (and an era) is on the line, it was our offense that was asked to deliver, and it did.

  • Bob

    Good point. I also have less faith in our defense than offense. Again, it’s why I think we should have got a final attempt in game 3. Actually Neal should have shot it in game 1 also.

  • SAJKinBigD

    That’s a very good point in this season of change and possibility! Defense had kept us in 2 of the 3 games we had lost and had greatly contributed to our single win. I think it very appropriate that it took an offensive night to keep us alive and HOPEFULLY turn this series around!
    My only real regret is I wasn’t in SA to enjoy like-minded company – I’m here in Dallas listening to all the Haters wishing us finished.
    Go SPURS GO!

  • betsyduncan

    Hey! There are some women posting here, too! Let’s not get carried away now…

  • DorieStreet

    It’s amazing is that Manu puts the previous errors out of his mindset to focus on the next play, then remain calm and collected during the chaoitc inbound play to proceed to the task at hand- get behind the line & shoot the 3-even while off-balanced. A 9.999 on the 10 scale (the 0.001 is the amount of shoe on the arc).

  • Clombri

    EXCELLENTE DESCRIPTION OF THIS INCREDIBLE MATCH (AND THIS INCREDIBLE GINOBILI!!!). Thanks!

  • alamobro

    His legend certainly grew in that game….

    “…THEN there was the time he threw in a 2.5 point shot with time expiring on a broken play, while falling out of bounds,with a 7 foot giant falling towards him, and saved the Spurs season”….to be followed by…..”…then in game 6, he helped the Spurs stay in the game, hurling basketball all the way from midcourt to find the inside of the basket, RIGHT as time expired, WITHOUT hitting the backboard ! ” ( Oh yea, he did it all while playing with one good arm)

    Legend.