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Popovich says Ginobili has same competitive fire as Kobe, Jordan

Apr 18, 2012, 3:38 PM EDT

Spurs Ginobili shoots past Celtics Stiemsma in the first half of their NBA basketball game at TD Garden in Boston Reuters

If you remember Spike Lee’s “Kobe Doin’ Work” film, you remember Kobe Bryant praising Manu Ginobili. — “That’s a bad boy right there.” It was respect.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has more than respect for the Argentinian. Popovich was talking with Marc Spears of Yahoo about Ginobili (via IamaGM.com) and how he is the key to their playoff run this year. The Spurs are a threat to Oklahoma City, they are a threat to everyone — but Ginobili has to be on top of his game.

Popovich compared Ginobili’s competitiveness to players as driven as the game has ever seen.

“He has the same love of winning and maniacal approach to competitiveness,” Popovich said. “It’s the same as Michael and Kobe have.

“He doesn’t have the same athletic ability. But he has the same spirit and competitiveness that they do. He has a high basketball IQ like they do in the sense that it could be an offensive board, a 3-point shot, a drive, a steal, an assist to win a basketball game. He knows what it takes. If you combine that IQ and that competitiveness, he’s a special person.”

That he is. Combined with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker they can play some special basketball, and this year with them healthy and a quality supporting cast around them — Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair, Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson, Matt Bonner — they can make some noise.

But it all hinges on Ginobili. That’s a bad boy right there.

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