Basketball: Unpretentious Ginobili earns his spurs

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The Independent Online

The last few days have not been kind to Manu Ginobili as his San Antonio Spurs have been reeled back from their 2-0 jump-start lead over Detroit Pistons in the NBA final series. But those of us newly converted to Manu Magic are hoping that he can re-assert himself in tomorrow night's fifth game before the final stand back in Texas.

The last few days have not been kind to Manu Ginobili as his San Antonio Spurs have been reeled back from their 2-0 jump-start lead over Detroit Pistons in the NBA final series. But those of us newly converted to Manu Magic are hoping that he can re-assert himself in tomorrow night's fifth game before the final stand back in Texas.

Anyone might think there is passion for the hoop game in this corner; if there is, it has always been profoundly latent. OK, you could admire the beautiful athleticism of Michael Jordan but the rest seemed utterly excessive: too many scores, too much money, too much behaviour you wouldn't countenance in a primary schoolyard. But Manu is different.

He's a foreigner - from Argentina - who has made Americans look more closely at their own sports heroes. He's a left-handed guard who does everything; runs, passes, defends, and scores three-pointers with a sublime nonchalance. Nor is he screaming for a new contract which could go a long way to funding the Pentagon's latest defence budget. He plays as though he has inherited the world. This is particularly touching in that he is scraping by on a mere $6m (£3.28m) a year.

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