The physical pain from the sprained right elbow and tiny bone fracture, suffered on April 13, is nearly gone.
“The last time I did the MRI (in mid-May), they told me the bone edema that I had was controlling itself but still needed a little time,” Ginobili said. “The little fracture is almost healed, but I needed more time to get completely healed.
“I am not playing basketball now, but lifting carefully. Running, well, I don’t need my elbow to run. Soon, I will start shooting free throws and see how it goes.”
Emotional pain from the Spurs’ first-round exit is another story. After a season that produced 61 victories and great postseason expectations, the early elimination sapped Ginobili’s interest in the remaining games.
Time spent watching the NBA Finals?
“None, zero,” he said. “I simply couldn’t take it. I would go online the day after to see what happened, but it hurt too much to watch the games.”
Though he stressed that the Grizzlies eliminated the Spurs “really fair and square,” he contends the Spurs were nonetheless title-worthy.
“I truly believe, if we could have beat them, and been healthy, we could have made it,” he said. “I don’t think we were that much less than OKC or the Lakers or Mavs or Heat. I think we had a shot. Memphis played really well and aggressively and just beat us.”
More importantly, Ginobili is convinced the Spurs remain a future NBA title contender.
“It’s hard to say when a team has its last shot,” he said. “Of course, the Bulls lost Michael Jordan and couldn’t make another run. But we’ve got the same core of players, and nothing changed dramatically, so why not? I believe in our players and our organization, so I believe we do have another shot.”
Ginobili has a reason to believe this, had he stayed healthy throughout the playoffs, one could argue the Spurs could have done better or possibly win the crown.
He had one of his better seasons with the Spurs averaging 17.4 points, 4.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 80 regular season games. His 17.4 scoring average was his highest since the 2007-08 season and his 4.9 dimes per game ties a career high.
Furthermore, Ginobili’s 20.6 ppg output this postseason was his highest since the 2004-05 playoffs when the Spurs won their third NBA title. He has managed to do this despite suffering a right elbow fracture just before the playoff starts.
Not only that, the Spurs have a nice young core of George Hill, DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter and James Anderson.
Had Splitter and Anderson did not suffer significant injuries during their first year in San Antonio, both of them could have been a vital cog to the Spurs playoff hopes.
Now, even with an impending lockout, the Spurs could look forward to the next season and know that they probably are one or two key pieces away from winning another title.
Manu believes that is the case.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Ginobili’s assessment of the Spurs? Tell us what you think.