Most days, I imagine it’s pretty great to be Manu Ginobili. Today is not one of those days.
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The San Antonio Spurs announced Thursday that the Argentine shooting guard "will be sidelined for at least one month" after undergoing surgery related to "a testicular injury" that he suffered during the Spurs' Wednesday win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Yes, seriously. All of those words are in the Spurs' press release.
Suddenly, it makes a lot more sense why teammate Tony Parker didn't seem too keen on cracking wise about his longtime backcourt partner taking a shot to the groin while taking a charge on Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson with 2:26 left in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's contest:
The 38-year-old guard struggled to get to his feet after the collision, eventually exiting the court "holding his side and clutching a towel to his mouth," according to Raul Dominguez of The Associated Press, and needing to be helped to the locker room by Tim Duncan and trainer Will Sevening. He wouldn't return, finishing with six points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes of work in the win, which improved San Antonio to 41-8 on the season, four games behind the league-leading Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Ginobili's injury isn't the first of its kind in NBA circles:
Ginobili not the first NBA player to suffer a testicle injury. Detlef Schrempf & Shawn Bradley also missed time w/ testicular trauma.
— Jeff Stotts (@RotowireATC) February 4, 2016
... but it isn't exactly common, and it's evidently serious enough to keep him on the shelf for at least the next month, putting him out through the All-Star break and beyond.
The injury is a bummer for Ginobili for, well, obvious reasons, but also because he's been so excellent for the Spurs this season after struggling for much of last season. Ginobili's been very productive in limited minutes, averaging 10 points, 3.3 assists, three rebounds and 1.1 steals in 19.7 minutes per game, posting his highest 3-point shooting mark in five years and ranking third in the NBA among shooting guards in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus statistic, behind only All-Stars Jimmy Butler and James Harden. San Antonio has been nearly 4.5 points per 100 possessions better with Manu on the floor than on the bench this season, according to NBA.com's stat tool, and he's helped lead arguably the NBA's best second unit.
It's not, of course, like the 41-8 Spurs can't weather the storm without Ginobili. They boast a deep reserve corps that also features veterans David West, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills alongside relative newcomers Kyle Anderson, Jonathon Simmons and Boban Marjanovic, and his absence figures to present an opportunity for Simmons and veteran Rasual Butler to take a larger role in Gregg Popovich's rotation for the next few weeks. But with Duncan already ailing and having missed San Antonio's last five games with a sore right knee, losing Ginobili takes yet another productive and experienced contributor out of the mix, making the job of making up ground on the Warriors in pursuit of the West's No. 1 seed — and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs — even tougher.
Not, however, nearly as tough as what Ginobili's going through, which sounds like something that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Get well soon, Manu; for what it's worth, thanks for reminding us that there but for the grace of God go we, avoiding horrific knees each and every day.
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