Manu Ginobili might be the most popular Spur right now in San Antonio, but Manu is probably one of the most hated players in the NBA.
The whirling Argentinean plays at such a high intensity level and fights for every loose ball like it was for his life. Manu's intangibles make him such a great player and a coaches dream.
As he has shown many times, most notably the 2005 NBA finals, in which he deserved MVP, Manu is a go to guy. At the end of a close Spurs game, Manu always has the ball and things usually turn out positive for the Spurs, whether it's a drive, a three, or a pass.
Yet players and fans around the league hate playing against Manu. I've been to many Spurs games outside of San Antonio and Manu always has a group or section of fan cheering for him, but in arenas like Utah or Phoenix, very seldom can you hear Manu fanatics over loud boos.
On Sunday, the Spurs visited the Dallas Mavericks and it was a hard fought game. The Spurs started the game shooting terribly and were looking tired.
Up came Ginobili off the bench and ignited a small fuse under the Spurs. Then, in the second half, the Spurs began better than in the first half, but Dallas just seemed like the better team. Again, Manu rose from the bench and this time the fuse was a lit on full blast.
Manu and the Spurs went on a 19-0 run to capture the lead. In the mist of the run Dirk Nowitzki made a good block on Ime Udoka and fell awkwarldy on his left leg.
The Spurs would win the game and Manu would lead all scorers with 26 points along with eight rebounds, six assists and a perfect 11-11 at the free throw line.
I mention this game because at the end of the third quarter Manu boxed out Mavs guard Jerry Stackhouse, who proceeded to grab Manu and throw him to the ground.
When Manu was asked about the situation he called it, "No big deal," and when Stackhouse was asked about it he replied, "Nothing new with him."
Manu has a reputation of getting under players' skin, like in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Utah Jazz in the 2007 playoffs. Manu even got to one of the nicest guys in the NBA, Derek Fisher, and had Jerry Sloan ejected.
George Carl went on a rant about how much he hated Manu Ginobili's game in the '05 playoffs, but once he cooled down he apologized and praised Manu Ginobili.
So while coaches, players, and fans continue to complain about the way Manu plays, he goes right along doing whatever he has to do to win a game. At the end of the day, all whining aside, the man standing tall is Manu Ginobili.