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In spite of all the Manu festivities, there was apparently still a basketball game to be played
In a way it made sense that almost nothing about this actual game was rational.
The energy was high all night, but it was a weird energy. It was focused, but it was focused elsewhere. For the most part, I think we’ve all done a pretty good job of embracing the radical change that’s come with this season. It’s been hard at times, but I think we all have come around to the idea that this is a pretty special group in it’s own right and we’re lucky to have them in Silver & Black. It doesn’t do to spend all your time dwelling on the past when the future is right there in front of you. The outlook for this team is bright and what they’re getting done in the present is pretty fun night in and night out.
Unfortunately, Thursday night was pretty much all about dwelling in the past. How could it not be? This was Manu’s night. The telecast kept showing Manu highlight packages, the crowd was given blue and white balloons, and even the warm-ups that the players wore all had Manu’s face emblazoned on them. It was impossible to escape. Imagine being one of the newer Spurs players out there on the court for this game. The spectre of the Spurs glorious past is ever present with this franchise but, in this case, the literal manifestation of it was right there in the stands watching you. That’s pretty heady stuff.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 29, 2019
I’m not saying any of this was bad. In fact, I loved every second of it and wouldn’t have changed a single thing. It was a wonderful night and no one in the world deserves a full evening of adoration and celebration more than Manu Ginobili. What’s even the point of being a Spurs fan if you aren’t going to drop everything you’re doing to talk about the time Manu defied gravity and dunked in Chris Bosh’s face during the Finals? Why are we even going through this whole song and dance of getting emotionally attached to a basketball team if we’re not going to get all hyped up about celebrating it? You put in the work of being a fan, stuff like watching summer league games and weird January blowouts, because the reward is a night like this where you get to bask in the glow of a team that feels more like a family.
All I’m trying to say is that, for the players, all of this had to have been a little bit…distracting. Right? You’re are out there trying to box out Tristian Thompson or whatever, and it feels like everything you’re doing is an afterthought. The Spurs we’re down 10 in the 3rd quarter and the atmosphere in the arena still felt like a party. That’s weird! This was a weird game, and it felt weird!
In a perfect world, the Spurs would’ve come right out the gate and blown this Cavaliers team out of the water. They are significantly better and, lest we forget, these games are not unimportant by any stretch of the imagination. For all our talk about the playoffs being a forgone conclusion at this point, nothing has actually been clinched yet and, for that matter, the fight to not have to play Golden State in the 1st round is looming over everything. This game really mattered, and yet for long stretches it felt like it didn’t.
That’s okay, though. Honestly, it is. The last five minutes or so of this contest all of sudden seemed like a playoff game. It was some of the most fun I’ve had all season. The crowd came alive and the players looked like they caught a bit of that fire too. I mean, we all saw what happened when Patty Mills hit that three in the corner to ice the game, right? The place erupted! Patty spun away, fist pumping and yelling and hopping around. The bench lost their minds, and DeMar DeRozan ran over and wrapped him up in a big hug. Everyone was dancing around like we’d clinched a series or something. It was amazing.
I don’t care that it took a little bit of amazing to wrap things up against this terrible Cavs team. It was fitting. There was a mischievous, almost mystical vibe in the air for this game, and it affected everything. It was like the universe wanted to join us in celebrating our beloved, weirdo friend one more time by making things a little zanier than they probably needed to be.
You know, for old times sake.
MARCO WATCH: Was Manu ever as weird as Marco Belinelli? Is Marco as weird as Manu? I’ve found myself thinking about this a lot during this season of paying particularly close attention to Belli’s exploits. It’s been brought up before, but it’s impossible not to compare these two. They have a very similar sort of crackling energy on the court that really grabs your attention. It’s their creativity that sets them apart and draws us to them. They see different angles and shots than everyone else. It’s like they took the rules of basketball and translated them into their own special language and then went ahead and translated it back into ours. It looks pretty much the same but, you know, slightly off-kilter. In spite of their similarities, they are relatively distinct in how their eccentricities actually present on the court. Manu was all passion and fire and intensity. He attacked the action and erupted with joy when it worked. Marco is so different in that way. He drifts into the action, not lazily or anything, but almost with a purpose that seems detached from the actual game-play. Manu was locked in a never ending battle to defy the basic laws of physics while Marco is engaging in a delicate dance with them. The end result is that both of them end up creating moments and plays that are unlike anything else we usually get to see in this sport, and that’s where the similarities snap back into place. They are both purveyors of wonder and magic, and we’re all just fortunate to be along for the ride.
Source: Pounding The Rock