Dime Magazine’s Sean Sweeney recently revealed his list of the NBA’s ten toughest players for an award he called the Matt Harprings, named after current Utah Jazz color commentator and the former Jazz forward, who was known as one of the league’s most tenacious players.
Named along with Boston’s Paul Pierce, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Phoenix’s Steve Nash and Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant was Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
Sweeney says Ginobili made his list after he learned to respect Ginobili over his nine-year NBA career and saw Ginobili actually play with just one arm without receving the fanfare or comparisons to Willis Reid Celtics guard Rajon Ronda received this past offseason.
Flopping aside, I’ve learned to respect Ginobili over the years. He went from annoying to awesome. I could watch him play all day now. Remember during this postseason when Rajon Rondo was being celebrated as the next Willis Reed? “I can’t believe this! What heart! He’s playing with one arm!” Well Ginobili ACTUALLY WAS playing with one arm. And he still gave Memphis 20 a night. Ginobili doesn’t care about the critics or the love. He’s just a nasty competitor (and rarely says a word about it all).
In my opinion, he’s easily one of the toughest players who’s ever played this game.
Once you look back and realize he managed to increase his numbers, to average a team-leading 20.6 points, 4.2 assists and four rebounds per game, all while suffering from an arm injury that wasn’t fully healed, you’ll see Ginobili is even tougher than his bat-swatting reputation.