Last summer, the San Antonio Spurs passed at the opportunity of extending Manu Ginobili's contract. Perhaps they wanted to see if he was capable of withstanding the rigors of a full season injury free. Possibly his age was a factor seeing how he will be 33 years old in July.
Maybe they were also considering his long list of injuries and break-neck style of play that earned him the moniker “El Contusion.”
Yes it seems the Spurs’ front office had reasons enough to think twice about extending or re-signing him into a new contract. But after a slow start this season, Ginobili is giving many positive reasons why the Spurs kept him and gave him a three-year extension.
He started to regain his form in February when he was the best Spur as he led the team with his 18.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists averages.
When Tony Parker went down with an injury, Ginobili responded by improving his point production to 23.7 points per game leading the Spurs to an 11-5 record while Parker was out. Even when Duncan had an off night, Ginobili willed the Spurs to important victories and been the barometer of the Spurs' success lately.
As Coach Popovich said "He had a tough first half of the year, as we all know, but he's been playing All-Star-caliber basketball for the last month, that's the major reason why we kick-started it. Our rotations are more solid; trust on the team on both ends, execution-wise, has been better -- but Manu's play has been instrumental in us winning games."
What is even more impressive is Ginobili seems to play even better against tougher opponents. In last month's victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, he put up a combined 58 points. And is it coincidental, the Spurs lost to the New Jersey Nets with him sitting out due to lower back spasms. Just saying.
Recently, Manu scored 43 points in the win against the Orlando Magic and then scored 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter in the victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
His age and history of injuries are cause for concern, but Ginobili is definitely a proven winner and his "clutchness" is comparable to Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade or LeBron James.
This month the Spurs are 3-1 so far, and Manu continues to put up impressive numbers averaging 25.3 points, 5 assist and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Now that Ginobili is signed on for another three-years, he is guaranteed to retire a Spur. As he should! Maybe the Spurs will not only retire his jersey number when his days as a San Antonio Spur are over but also a red cape around it.