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Happy 45th birthday Grandpa Juice
When I was younger, my family would try to attend San Antonio Spurs games once a year. To say we were fans would be a huge understatement. One of my earliest memories was sitting on a couch in La Grange, Texas watching Avery Johnson hitting a shot falling backwards to defeat the New York Knicks in MSG. I couldn’t believe it. It was a true life David and Goliath story. Little old San Antonio which had never won anything defeating the big bad team from NYC. My dad has memories of going to games at Hemisfair arena and later, of course, at the Dome. Even though we did not have much money, we decided to go to a game in 2003 when Allen Iverson and the Sixers came to town. Just by luck, the spurs were doing a jersey give-a-way of a player and their number. I remember wanting it to be Tim Duncan jersey. Instead, imagine my sadness to be given this jersey of this rookie name Emanuel Ginobi-leee.
Over the years that sadness turned to excitement and love. One of the things I’ve love about sports is the connection you can make with the players who buy into to either the system and “get over themselves”. I think the perfect example of that is Manu. He’s not the best player the spurs ever had, nor is he the most important. Arguably, George Gervin, David Robinson, and Tim Duncan were more important to the organization and city. However, I firmly believe that Manu is the most loved spur of all time. I know that’s the case for me. And I can’t necessarily explain it. This isn't very comfortable to admit, but there have been two sport-related events where I cried. The first was in 2006 when he made an ill-advised foul in game 7. The second was when he missed a free throw in a finals game in Miami in 2013. I was 18 years old.
Still, his style of play, creativity, and passion made me love his game and life. One of my favorite Pop quotes about Manu after a game-winning shot was that he went from being ready to drive him to the airport to cooking him breakfast in the morning. You genuinely live and die by Manu.
Happy Birthday, Manu! Here are some of my favorite links about the person/player he was and continues to be.
Zach Lowe on Manu: https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/17262551/manu-ginobili-built-legacy-love-team-storied-career