Manu's game-winner—and overall game—against the Celtics solidifies why so many people love and appreciate him.

By Jeremy Woo
December 09, 2017

Convention says sportswriters are supposed to be impartial, but it’s fair to venture a guess that all or most of them love Manu Ginobili so much (this one included) that at some point, appreciating his ongoing success becomes par for the course.

When people talk about the very entertaining Spurs-Celtics game that happened Friday night in San Antonio, they’ll remember 40-year-old Ginobili’s go-ahead, game-winning shot over an extending Al Horford arm with five seconds left. They might not remember that he dug out the offensive rebound off a Rudy Gay miss seconds earlier to preserve that possession. All very Manu things to do.

They also may not remember that he also hit a buzzer-beater going into … halftime of the game.

Sure, Ginobili is only averaging 8.3 points per game this season, but it’s his 16th in the NBA. When he made his debut in 2002, Kyrie Irving (who had 36 points and very nearly tied Friday’s game at the final buzzer) was 10. The Celtics, of course, have the most wins in the league. So all these semi-miscellaneous moments in what could be his final season (which we’ve been saying for like, five seasons) are nice to meditate on. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists and the highlight of the night.

Whenever Ginobili retires, he will do so as one of the NBA’s truly singular players, always capable of the big moment, the big quarter or the big game, sometimes all in one. He could once dunk, and once had hair. While some things are lost to time, others seem impeccably preserved. Ginobili’s guile and creativity off the dribble persist, just in slower fashion. As Saturday showed, he can still alter a one-possession game with the best of them.

It snowed in San Antonio on Thursday night. Ginobili spoke to reporters earlier Friday about the impact the weather had on his twin sons, who, having grown up in Texas, have hardly seen winter.

“We went for a walk early in the morning because they wanted to see it. We had one crying that he didn’t want the snow to melt,” Ginobili said. “I didn’t know how to convince him that it wasn’t going to happen, so I said ‘OK, it’s not going to happen.’” 

Sometimes, the metaphors write themselves.

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