Six weeks after a shocking loss to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies sent the No. 1 Spurs to an early summer vacation, All-NBA guard Manu Ginobili (6'6''-G-77, agency: Interperformances) has turned his basketball focus to his Argentine national teams pursuit of a berth in the 2012 Olympic tournament in London.
From his offseason home in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, where he recently has completed a move to a new residence, the Spurs star took time to discuss, via telephone, the importance of the FIBA Americas tournament his country will host this summer and reflect on the Spurs great season gone to waste.
Heres a transcrit of the Ginobili interview, including his thoughts on watching his twin sons take their first steps, the Mavericks winning the NBA title, the looming NBA lockout, plus some happy news about former Spurs center Fabricio Obertos medical clearance to join him on the Argentine national team:?
How has your summer been?
Long, so far. Its been a month and a half already since we lost (in the first round). I took my first month off, as I usually do. Now Im trying to lift. Next week, I start running, slowly getting in shape. At the end of July, we start training with the national team. But I am enjoying my time with my family, loving it, spending lots of time with the boys, of course, and making some arrangements with my new home here, getting used to it with my family and friends.
Are the twins, Dante and Nicola, shooting hoops yet?
(Laughing) Not yet. Today they are 13 months. They are trying to walk, but they prefer falling. They are climbing on chairs and anything they can use to pull themselves up. It is fun and I have plenty of time for them and we are all loving it, us (Ginobili and his wife, Many), grandparents, uncles.
How goes the rehab from the sprained-fractured elbow?
I've been told not to play hoops for a month, month and a half, two months not to put pressure on the arm.
I notice now that the pain is almost gone. The last time I did the MRI, probably around May 16 (or) May 20, they told me that the bone edema that I had was controlling itself, but I still needed a little time to go.
The little fracture is almost healed, but I needed more time to get completely healed. I am not playing basketball now, but lifting carefully. Running, well, I dont need my elbow to run. Soon, I will start shooting free throws, with a break for a little bit, and see how it goes.
With 20-20 hindsight and the MRI that showed the elbow fracture, do you think it was it a mistake to try to play when you did?
I do not. The doctors said that if I avoided full extension of the joint, nothing bad could happen and, of course, that is why I wore the brace. It was a fracture, but it was tiny, at the very tip of the ulna, so it was not a big deal, not a big fracture that could bother me. I was OK.
Did the injury give you many problems? It appeared the brace you had to wear on your right arm affected your ability to handle the ball easily.
Of course, I wasnt at full strength, but what are you going to do? You just play the way you are, and we are not the only team that had injuries. At least I could play and Im not gong to say we just lost because I missed Game 1.
It just happens, and if you are going to win the championship, you have to do without a player for a game, and we should have won without me for one game.
To tell the truth, they could have easily beaten us in Game 5 at home. So no excuse. Of course, I was limited, but we are better than that.
How important is it for you to play in the ?FIBA Americas tournament (Aug. 30-Sept. 12, in Mar del Plata, Argentina) and help your national team get to the next Olympics?
Very, very important for me. Not only because it gives me the opportunity to play in my last Olympic Games, but also it will be the first time we have played in Argentina in a decade. After all we have accomplished, having the opportunity to play in front of our fans and our people is very important. It is going to be fun. It is just a short time, just nine games.?
I know I only have this one and probably the next one to play with all my great friends on the team, Luis (Scola) and Fabri (Oberto) and (Andres) Nocioni and (Carlos) Delfino and the rest. It is really exciting.
So Fabricio has been cleared to play? (Note: Oberto retired from the Portland Trail Blazers last season because of ongoing problems with cardiac arrhythmia.)
Fabri is planning to play. He is getting into really good shape. He got the OK from the doctors, so he is trying to get into better shape, the best possible.
He got the thumbs-up to go do it. Of course, he is rusty, but we all know how hard he will work, and I am thrilled to play with him again and pumped to again play together, a month and a half to be with him and all my other friends on the team.
Has there been any discussion yet of the insurance issues?
No, that is an important issue and nobody really knows what is going to happen. Ive been in touch with the NBPA (the players union) to know whats going on, but it is very shaky. We all understand the situation. Nobody knows what can be done with a lockout coming. Nobody really knows what is going to happen.
Would you play without insurance?
That is a really tough decision to make if we arrived at that point. We will have to dig down with teammates and friends and make a decision, a really difficult one, and I dont think that many players are going to be able to play if we dont find an option for insurance. Im really hoping that the NBPA finds a good, solid insurance company, finds the money that is needed and we can all think about playing.
If there is a lockout, would you consider going to play overseas, where you were a star a decade ago?
Not really. I would consider it only if the whole season was canceled. If the lockout goes to January and the season is canceled, I might consider. If not, no I wouldnt.
To go make a move to Europe and then be called back to the NBA in a few weeks .?.?. I dont want to do that and many teams wont be willing unless they get a guarantee they will stay the whole year.
With that six weeks of time to reflect, what do you take away from the Spurs season and playoffs?
As I said before, I think we had a very good season, so of course it was a great season. Of course, the low point is we peaked probably too early December, January, instead of April, as usual. But I truly believe it was a very tight and close playoff against Memphis and if we could have beat them, and been healthy, we could have made it.
I dont think we were that much less than OKC or the Lakers or Mavs or Heat. We faced a tough opponent that we had difficulty matching up with and they beat us, really fair and square. But if we had beat them, we would have the same chance of making it to the (NBA) Finals as we all thought.
The Mavericks won the championship but they needed six games against the Blazers in the first round. That is how the playoffs are.
You remember against the Suns in 2007 we had a very tough (conference semifinals) series, but we won that and then won against Utah in five and Cleveland in four.
I think we had a shot. Memphis played really well and aggressively and just beat us.
Is there any sense at all that last year, especially with the No. 1 seed, really may have been the last best shot for the three of you, Tim (Duncan) and Tony (Parker) and yourself?
Not really, because you probably could have said that the year before, and then we went out there and started to fight and play hard and won 61 games.
So we will try to do it again and try to accomplish the goal. Its hard to say when a team has its last shot. Of course, the Bulls lost Michael Jordan and couldnt make another run. But weve got the same core of players and nothing changed dramatically, so why not? I believe in our players and our organization so I believe we do have another shot.
Tony recently said to French journalists that he didnt believe the Spurs were capable of winning the championship any longer. What is your take on that?
I heard about it, but I didnt read the quote or how he said it, but I never trust what I dont hear directly.
Sometimes its not exactly what you meant to say, and I dont really believe Tony meant that. We all saw what we did this year and there is no reason to believe next year will be so much different in six months. It depends on how professional we are in the offseason, and then after a lockout.
Its not that easy. We wont be the main candidate to win it, but the Mavs werent the main candidate this year and not many people believed the Mavs could win it. But it can happen.
Did you watch any of the NBA Finals?
None. Zero. I simply couldnt take it. I would go online the day after to see what happened, but it hurt too much to watch the games. I just followed the scores.
I watched a couple games between Mavs and Thunder, but that was hard, too, so not much else.
Is there some gratification for a veteran player, such as yourself, to see guys like Dirk (Nowitzki) and (Jason) Kidd and (Shawn) Marion finally win a championship, rather than the team that tried to orchestrate its own greatness?
I said it on Twitter. Jason Kidd is a great pro and player and I admire him. It was good to see him get a championship at 38 and playing huge minutes and making the biggest stops. The rest are younger, a little different. Jason Kidd is sort of like Michael Finley for us in 07. To see him get his chance was great. I really respect him.
Dirk and Marion will have many more shots.
I hear (former Spur) Ian (Mahinmi) played some big minutes, too. I didnt watch. Hes a good kid and he has many more years. Good for him to go and play in the Finals.
Is it hard when you think back to the game up in Dallas on March 18, everyone healthy, the team beginning to gain some momentum with the playoffs approaching, the Mavericks also at full strength and still in position to move up in the standings, maybe even all the way to No. 1. Yet, you win the game to go 3-1 against the eventual champions? Or is there some consolation in knowing that when both teams were healthy, the Spurs were the equal of the eventual champions?
I think we were equal, but its just one game. We can beat the Lakers or Heat or Mavs one game. That happens in a season.
Sometimes I do think we match up better against the Mavs than Memphis, for example. But we lost in the first round, so we didnt get a chance to win the championship. (The Mavs) swept the Lakers, which isnt easy. So we cant think of that regular-season game. Thats just not the way it is.
You are 34 and under contract through the 2012-13 season. You also were named All-NBA at age 34, proof you are still an impactful player. Have you begun to consider how much longer you intend to play in the NBA?
I really dont know. Of course, anybody can tell that I played very good last season, especially at the beginning, but I dont know how I will feel next season or the next few years.
Everybody knows I dont have the same legs I once did, but I try to be decisive for my team, be a leader and provide ways for my team to win. I think I can do it for a few years more, but it depends on how I feel physically and mentally. If I am as motivated as Ive ever been, I will keep going, but if not, I will say thanks to everybody and keep going on with my life.
Argentino keeps Basabe for another season - 6 hours ago
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Atletico Argentino Junin (LigaA) re-signed 24-year old swingman Emiliano Basabe (193-92). He has played there for the last three seasons. In 61 LigaA games he averaged 8.7ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.3apg and 1.6spg (in top 5) last season. Basabe's team made it to the LigaA Semifinals in 2014. He represented Argentina at the World Championships U19 in Latvia five years ago. Basabe's team got to the Semifinals and his stats at that event were 8 games: 3.3ppg, 2.1rpg. Basabe has played previously for two... [read more]
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An undersized but very effective PG. Has great personality and quarterbacking skills, can score and pass. Huge upside at the PG position.
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