Sometimes, some things have to be said. Now I’m not – nor should anyone else be – one to count out legends or write players off when it seems like they may never return to former greatness. It’s cruel and disrespectful to the legacies they’ve built. And it also exposes how hypocritical journalist, analysts, media-types and fans really are. But sometimes…
The question mark is there for a reason. Real talk: It’s there as a favor. If San Antonio has any chance of pulling off a Game 5 win or two of the next three games, then a Manu Ginobili that we haven’t seen in these playoffs (in years, actually) has got to show the eff up.
But he won't. He’s done. It’s over. He might (might?) have a one-game or one-half explosion, but the player that Skip Bayless once said was greater than Scottie Pippen has disappeared and may never come home or be found.
And that right there is the biggest problem the Spurs have to face going into Game 5. Not whether or not Dwyane Wade is going have back-to-back “Dwyane Wade” games. Not whether or not Chris Bosh is going to act again like he’s a legit power forward and not one of Dell Curry’s sons. Not whether or not Mike Miller is going to start in place of Udonis Haslem and throw off whatever plan Pop has in effect. None of that is a major issue for San An’.
The Spurs can still take this series, but they’ll need Ginobili to be much more than the shell of his former self. He needs to show them (us!) that he has something, anything left. As bad as Bosh has been at times, he's never been replaced in the "Big 3" conversation the way Ginobili seems to be verbally and philosophically getting replaced by Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green during these Finals.
Popovich played it stupid when, after Game 4, he was asked why has Manu been so ineffective. His answer of “I don’t know what you are talking about” is not the answer of a coach that is more in tune with every aspect of his team than Eric Snowden is with classified NSA intel. But it was still the answer that he was supposed to give.
Deep inside, though, he knows. We all do. And whether or not Popovich is willing to publicly admit it is not the issue here. Dealing with this “R.I.P. Ginobili” reality for Game 5 and beyond is the issue.