The Man Who Played

5 09 2008

During the NBA playoffs, the 6’5″ guard injured his ankle during his San Antonio Spurs’ loss to the Phoenix Suns.  The nagging injury hampered the normally dynamic player, limiting his effectiveness as the Spurs X-factor.    His game visibly flattened and San Antonio’s playoffs hopes floated down the river.

Manu took his bum ankle and flew across the world to represent his country.

Scorning his NBA coach, Manu Ginobili went to Beijing this summer and played for Argentinian Men’s Basketball Team.  Manu was their captain, their leading scorer and their flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies.

So coming off a first-round loss and a troubling injury, he felt well enough to strap up the sneakers and test the Chinese hardwood.  Unfortunately, he re-injured that left ankle during an elimination game against the US team.

A few days ago, Manu went to Los Angeles and had surgery on his left heel and ankle.  The guy’s going to be on crutches for three weeks plus two or three months of rehab. 

Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs have delayed negotiations to extend Manu’s contract.  Manu’s agent says that “[they] want to see how [Manu] recovers from the surgery.” 

I wasn’t surprised to come across anger towards Manu for playing in the Olympics.  But I was surprised to see him being called selfish.  Manu Ginobili?  Selfish?

I suppose he takes his fair share of shots but really?  Selfish?  I’ll need that explained to me further.

The guy left Europe where he was making bank to join the Spurs, where he was the seventh or eighth guy on the roster.  Keep in mind that Manu was getting bites from other NBA teams where he could start and get a bigger slice of cheese.

He’s one of the most productive guards in the league and he’s ceded his starter status to Mike Finley for the good of the Spurs organization.  The man has the skills to demand the ball on every possession but he plays the team game.  And he’s being called selfish?

Manu is coming off a disappointing NBA finish where he could have taken it easy, rested his old body and lined up a good contract (see: Steve Nash).  Instead, he goes and plays hard for his country.  Selfish?  Really?

Manu doesn’t strike me as a stupid man.  If he were, he’d probably parlay his basketball clout into a maximum contract for a bad team.  So you have to think that his participation in the Olympics was highly calculated.

On one hand, he can play it safe and stay home.  He effectively chooses the San Antonio Spurs over Argentina’s national team.  It also puts him in good shape, contractually, as he is lowering his risk of aggravating his ankle.

On the other hand, he can play in the Olympics.  He effectively chooses the Argentinian team over the Spurs.  He has an opportunity to win a gold medal and gets to represent his country.

In terms of gain, the first option benefits his income while the second option benefits his nationalistic feelings.  So he can be seen as selfish that way.  He is chooses one constituency (Argentina) over another (Spurs fans).  Naturally, Spurs fans are miffed and confused by his measured gamble.

Another point to note is that most European teams hold the FIBA World Championships in higher regard than the Olympic gold medal.  This thought is paralleled by futbol’s World Cup having precedence over the Olympic soccer championship.  So why would Manu trade his NBA clout for a lesser tournament’s championship?

What do you think?  What would you have done and why did Manu do it?  Is it selfishness?

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4 responses

6 09 2008
jkarp

Manu Ginobili, starting shooting guard for one of the best teams in the West Division and leading scorer and captain for his Argentian Olympic team, is now injured playing for his country (Argentina) in the Bejiing Olympics. Manu injured his ankle; fans and team have no hope of playing in the 2008-2009 NBA playoffs. manu has to be on crutches for three weeks plus two to three months in rehab.

7 09 2008
mao

Ok, I don’t know what that other comment is.

I think Manu did the right thing. He’s an icon in Argentina and as you mentioned, the flag bearer. Sure, he was a little bit injured, but it is important to be there for your national team, regardless of what your professional situation is. Yao Ming played for China, would he have been criticized if he’d gotten hurt in the Olympics, too?

8 09 2008
K-man

Not sure either.

I agree. For the most part, it seems that if you’re the best player in your country, you play automatically. Besides the US players, I think Nash is the only one bucking that trend.

I think Yao would’ve been criticized too but he would’ve been given a little bit more slack because China was the host country. Dunno though…

8 09 2008
mao

Yeah, I think Yao would’ve been criticized too, but you’re right, the host country thing would’ve definitely made a difference.

I think that because we’ve had such a hold on the gold medals it’s been taken for granted how big the Olympics should be. That’s not the case in other countries (despite Argentina winning it in ’04) and it’s still a huge huge deal to play for your country and try to knock off the US. The Spurs should relax and realize that if you want an international team you have to realize that they’re going to want to play for country. And that should be a good thing.

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