Taking greatness for granted


So Ron Burgundy tells me I'm kind of a big deal . . .More often than not, it’s something we’ve found ourselves doing with the stoic consistency of Tim Duncan. There were times he’d put up 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds and if it happened in a loss, it would seem you’d always hear about a couple of tentative post moves or an ill-timed or costly turnover. The standard of play a fan can become accustomed to and expect is really quite amazing—and even more so when it just seems to come so effortlessly, naturally.

Really, if any team has a superstar or special talent, even the best of fan bases are susceptible. It just so happens that the San Antonio Spurs’ fan base has more to take for granted than most.

I’ll never forget the year Manu arrived. Two of the first, lasting memories that come to mind, were a thunderous left-handed drive and dunk over Erik Dampier—then a Golden State Warrior—and the comments of an ESPNEWS anchor during a Spurs’ highlight, opining about the ridiculous highlight-to-play ratio of the Argentine rookie. From the minute he stepped onto the court and into the collective consciousness of Spurs’ fans everywhere, there was just something different about him. He was streetball with class. He was style-meets-substance. Ginobili captured the imagination of fans, coaches and teammates alike. He immediately found disdain and admiration from his peers, both stemming from an undeniable respect they had for the results or play. Maybe more so than any Spurs’ player has past or present, he forced the faithful to find the edge of their seats—and he never let them leave (and it didn’t hurt to be  a Spanish-speaking, charismatic personality in a strong Hispanic market).

Kurt Helin recently wrote about the latest segment dedicated to Manu Ginobili from NBA Access. Rasual Butler, Shannon Brown, Channing Frye and Caron Butler all spoke to what’s been referred to as the “Euro Step” (via a South American—go figure ) and the difficulty of defending it, him.

I mean, I know he’s going left, and I try to stop him,” Frye says. “And I just looked at Coach like, ‘Hey, man, ya know, I don’t move my feet that fast.’

It’s always amusing to hear broadcasters, scribes, coaches and players state that, “You know he’s going left.” And maybe they’re correct, to an extent. Manu does go to his left more often than not. But like the rest of his game, looks can be deceiving.

Manu Ginobili goes to his left—the opposition can’t seem to get that right.