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Old 10-03-10, 01:20 PM
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Fatherhood has Ginobili ready for new chapter

Fatherhood has Ginobili ready for new chapter
By Jeff McDonald - Express-News
Web Posted: 10/03/2010 12:00 CDT




Spurs' Manu Ginobili takes a shot during the first official practice for the 2010-2011 season for the San Antonio Spurs at their practice facility on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010. Kin Man Hui/[email protected] Kin Man Hui/Express-News

In previous summers of his life, Manu Ginobili won NBA championships, a World Championship and Olympic gold.
He wouldn't trade any of those summers for his latest one.

On May 16, Ginobili's wife gave birth to the couple's first children, twin boys Dante and Nicola. While the rest of his Argentine comrades were in Turkey in September, playing in the FIBA World Championships, Ginobili was home in San Antonio with a son on each arm.

“Winning is a very exciting thing, for a moment,” Ginobili said. “(Fatherhood) is like an everyday thing. Every time they smile at you, it's a win.”

Fatherhood wears well on Ginobili. Not even diaper duty can dampen the fuzzy feelings.

“If you ask me, I'm pretty good at it,” he said, beaming.

If there was anyone who celebrated Ginobili's twins more than Ginobili, it might have been coach Gregg Popovich.

Their arrival kept Ginobili home this summer, away from the World Championships that might have beckoned otherwise. Healthy, sharp and as rested as a first-time father can be, Ginobili is prepared to pick up where he left off the second half of last season, when he re-emerged as one of the most productive scoring guards in the NBA.

The feelings of uncertainty about his health and his game that plagued him early last season are gone. He has a new three-year contract extension. He has two beautiful sons and, at age 33, is poised for a career renaissance.

For Ginobili, life is good.

“I feel much better already,” Ginobili said after the first week of training camp. “I feel strong going to the rim. I'm not afraid of stepbacks, where at the beginning of last season, I was. I've been working hard for a month now. I'm feeling good.”

It's been a while since training camp has been a feel-good time of year for Ginobili.

Two years ago, he missed it entirely while recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Last year, he was healthy after a yearlong battle with various lower leg injuries, but felt completely out of his basketball element after taking the summer off.

After averaging just 13.4 points before the All-Star break last season, Ginobili gradually began to resemble himself in February, near the end of the Spurs' rodeo trip. A turning point came March 8, when he threw in 38 points — including seven 3-pointers — in a loss at Cleveland.

When he opened April by dumping 43 points on Orlando and 32 against the Lakers, it was fair to proclaim: Ginobili was back.

“I knew it was going to come back,” said Ginobili, who averaged 16.5 points last season, matching the second-best season of his career. “I was just starting to get impatient, because it was taking longer than I thought.”

Ginobili was perhaps the NBA's most feared guard after the All-Star break, averaging 21.5 points with five 30-point games.

The contract extension Ginobili always believed would take care of itself came in April. He kept rolling in the playoffs, averaging a team-leading 19.4 points in 10 games.

“We knew he was going to come around, eventually,” forward Richard Jefferson said. “After that, you just sit back and enjoy the show.”

The Spurs are optimistic that show might begin a little earlier this season, such as October. Popovich this week pronounced his star guard “fit, healthy and ready to go.”

Ginobili says he hasn't felt this good in camp since 2007, a career season for him. This is a good thing. On the list of things that need to go right in order for the Spurs to compete for a title, Ginobili remaining both upright and otherworldly rank somewhere near the top. Ginobili, certainly, is anxious to start the season.

“I am optimistic,” he said. “I think we're going to have a better, stronger start than last year, and that is going to help us.”

Open practice today: The Spurs will hold their annual open practice at 1:30 p.m. today at the AT&T Center. Admission is free. Individual game tickets for the first half of the season will also go on sale at noon at the AT&T Center box office.
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Old 10-03-10, 06:15 PM
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It's good to hear that Manu feels great. I'm looking forward to this season. The potential is there--now we'll see how it develops. GSG
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