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Goodbye, Manu

A fond farewell to a familiar Grizzlies foe

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

You may be thinking, “This is a Grizzlies blog, why are we talking about Manu Ginobili?”

Simply put, the Grizzlies and Manu were intertwined for most of Ginobili’s career. Before we get into that, let me say this about Manu Ginobili-

As a younger man, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs during the Jordan years, I didn’t really like the NBA at the time that the Spurs began their rise to prominence. Shout-out to Elton Brand and Marcus Fizer for trying to keep me interested. The Spurs saved my interest in basketball. Without them, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this today. Yes, the Lakers were a dynasty at the time but I was young and REALLY disliked Kobe Bryant being called the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan.

Yes, I was one of those kids.

My favorite NBA player during this stretch was Manu Ginobili.

I was in love with the style with which he played the game. Creating lots of highlights, that probably would have made him a bigger star had social media been as prevalent. Highlights that many folks, all over the internet, have been sharing the last few days. Plays like this:

Or the famous bat incident:

I could keep going on and on, but let me finish by saying thank you.

Thank you, Manu Ginobili.

Against the Bluff City

When Manu goes back to look at his career, one thing he’ll see a lot, is the Grizzlies. Ginobili played 55 regular season games against Memphis, more than any other team in his career, plus 23 in the playoffs that we’ll revisit in a moment.

In regular season games, Manu set career highs, or close to them, in several statistical categories. Career-highs against Memphis include:

  • 3pt Shots - 88 made of 229
  • Free Throws - 187 of 230
  • Assists - 247
  • Points - 739

And one that Grizzlies fans will enjoy:

  • 125 Turnovers

Overall, against the entire NBA, the years between 2004-2011 were Peak Manu.

Manu Ginobili Stats 2004-2005 through 2010-2011

From To G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
From To G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS
2005 2011 487 296 29 5.3 11.7 0.454 1.7 4.5 0.374 3.6 7.2 0.503 0.526 4.5 5.3 0.844 0.8 3.4 4.1 4.2 1.5 0.4 2.2 2.2 16.8
basketball-reference.com

During this stretch were 2 of the 4 NBA Championships Manu would win with the Spurs. Add to that a Sixth Man of The Year Award in 2008, All-NBA Third Team honors in 2008 and 2011, finishing 8th in the 2011 NBA MVP voting, plus 2 All-Star appearances in 2005 and 2011 to bookend this era.

Speaking of 2011...

This is the prime example of Peak Manu. Overall in the playoffs, Manu’s stats against the Grizzlies are fairly unremarkable. Except for the 2011 First Round Playoff Series.

Manu straight WENT OFF on the Grizzlies in that series in a very-famous-in-Grizzlies-history losing effort. Ginobili led the way for the Spurs with 20.7 points per game, 9 total made threes, and 13 steals. Manu and Tony Parker did just about everything they could against the Grizzlies in that series but ultimately fell in 6 games. Of note, it’s the only playoff series of the 5 against Memphis, that he started ANY of the playoff games between the two, starting all 5 that played in.

Something folks may not remember, Manu only missed Game 1 after allegedly breaking his arm during the Spurs’ regular season finale against Phoenix. With how Manu played in games 2 through 6, it’s definitely reasonable to suggest the series could have turned out differently had Manu played in Game 1.

Manu was the best player that season for the Spurs (see MVP consideration above). Tony Parker coming in a close second. A healthy Manu, and that fabled 1st playoff series victory for the Grizzlies and eventual loss to OKC in 7 games, may never have happened.

Over the years, Manu (and most of the Spurs) were an annoyance to play against. The key difference between him and say, Blake Griffin or Chris Paul, is that the Spurs were respected. Heated rival, but respected. The Spurs do things the right way and were a model of how to build a superteam before that was even a word.

With Manu gone now, the Spurs aren’t the same Spurs anymore. No Tim Duncan. No Parker. No Kawhi Leonard. No Danny Green. And now? No Ginobili, either.

Much like with the Clippers, we now can (should) be free to move on from the Spurs, for now at least. Until hopefully the next playoffs matchup where Dejounte Murray and Jevon Carter get into it over Carter’s tenacious lockdown defense, in a hotly contested Western Conference Finals.

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