Manu Ginobili throws insane passes in the Finals because why the hell not


Nobody makes the routine look as spectacular as Manu Ginobili. For most Spurs observers, this is no secret. Ginobili’s style of play is legendary if only for the sheer unconventionality of it all. In the second quarter of San Antonio’s Game 1 win over the Heat, Ginobili added to his portfolio of YouTube-worthy moments and briefly captured the hearts of the internet.


It didn’t lead to a basket, but Ginobili’s ability to bend space and time with his pass, and avoid the hands of feet of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, momentarily set the blogosphere abuzz.

“I think I started running back on defense and the next thing I knew the ball was in my hands,” Spurs forward Matt Bonner,¬†recipient¬†of the magic pass in question, said on Saturday.

Just watch the video. Look at the curve of the pass as it crosses the court. Watch as it changes directions on the bounce. Marvel at the arm angle Ginobili displays in firing that ball through the defense.

That is the Capt. Ronald Speirs of passes. In one episode of the Band of Brothers miniseries, Spiers runs across enemy lines to relay a message to another group of American troops on the other side of the battlefield. German soldiers were so stunned by this American soldier running through the battlefield that they failed to shoot him. And then he ran back.

“It was almost like a slider in baseball,” Bonner said, “so that when it hit the ground it kind of bounced low so the defense couldn’t get it.”

Bonner is no stranger to the predictably unpredictable passes Ginobili has showcased during his Spurs career. As a member of the Spurs second unit, he’s in the line of fire plenty of time. Danny Green, an innocent bystander on the play, had seen this movie before. Green is usually on the bench whenever Ginobili is in the game, with the exception of a few lineups, so he’s typically got a front row seat for these Ginobili gems.

“It’s not the first time that he’s done it, he’s done it pretty much his whole career,” Green said. “It’s usually to Tony on the cut. He’ll throw it ahead and then make the ball bounce back spin back to Tony catches it right in his pocket.

“It’s a pretty tough pass to do, especially through the defense, but somehow he gets it done.”

But what if that wasn’t Ginobili’s best pass of the game? Earlier in that quarter, Ginobili threaded the needle between Heat guard Norris Cole’s legs on a backdoor play similar to the one Danny Green referenced. That play didn’t pass didn’t result in a basket, either, but it still caught the attention of many around the interwebs.

“Same type of pass, that left handed bounce pass with a little spin on it,” Green said. “I didn’t realize it went through his legs, I was on the bench, but when I saw it on TV I looked twice. ‘Did that just go through his legs?'”

For those of us who watch the Spurs on a daily basis, we’re treated to this type of stuff on the regular. (You know, when Manu’s healthy and all that.) But with it happening in the NBA Finals, the grandest stage of them all in professional basketball, a national audience is being treated to the what folks and San Antonio have been witnessing for years.

“It’s just one of those plays that, you know, when they work it’s awesome,” Bonner said. “When they don’t it makes Coach Pop’s hair turn a little whiter.”

  • Eric Westerman

    If anybody could do it, it’s Manu. But the between the legs pass on Cole was one where I finally thought that it was the more result of a low pass just finding a way through as opposed to him trying to thread the needle in just that spot.

  • Graham

    How we never had a season tallying #ManuNutmegCount is one of the great regrets from this season.


    Show how many of those went for a steal or transition score by the other team. I get it. That’s Ginobili as he told Pop in the Warriors series. But again…it’s great when it works out…Not so great when it leads to the other team scoring.

    Now if it goes for 75% it benefits the team, then it’s awe inspiring. If it goes the other way because of it being forced….what you say?

  • agutierrez

    Manu’s spectacular plays make YouTube and cause buzz, as well they should, and countless one’s are legend, but there are also subtle plays that go unnoticed and unremarked, and that’s a shame. One example (of many) came with about .36 seconds left in the first half. The occasion was a jump ball between Lebron and Danny. Manu knew that James would win the tip and anticipated that it would be tipped in the direction of Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers. As the ball is tossed in the air, Manu backs off of Allen and essentially sets a screen to prevent either Allen or Chalmers from reaching the ball. It goes out of bounds off of James. We get the ball, Tony scores, followed by a Miami score and then Timmy’s buzzer beater as the first half ends. We go into the locker room just three down and with the momentum of that last shot … in no small measure because of Manu’s heady play.

  • Al

    And the Spurs are boring…

  • Tim Davis

    It was so subtle. The guy drives us crazy – & thrills the living sh_t out of us. He has been a blast to watch for a very long time.

  • Tim Davis

    That’s the point of M’s presence & coolness. We know he’s flawed. Just like the beauty of basketball itself – it isn’t static – it’s dynamic. He’s blown it so many times w/ ‘fancy’ – but it works vastly more than it doesn’t. And man when it works … there’s nothing like it.

  • Tim Davis

    yea … well, you’re a big dumb face. Love that championship fiber boredom baby!

  • Graham

    Preeety sure he’s being ironic there, Tim.

  • Len

    Nah, I don’t buy that. It’s just a shame Tony didn’t see LBJ doubling quick enough and feed Kawhi for the bucket. Then we’d all be talking about an all time Finals moment.

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