Jun 16, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT
Is this really how a great career ends?
The once-star guard looked like a shell of himself. He had one really good game in the NBA Finals, but overall, he shot inefficiently from his best areas, failed to protect the ball and defended poorly. Worst of all, at his age, there’s often no coming back from that type of slippage.
Manu Ginobili did it, though.
Can Dwyane Wade?
The shooting guards have taken turns with depressing Finals, Ginobili last year and Wade this year. But, somehow, Ginobili – at age 36 – shook off blowing a 3-2 series lead last season.
“Every team we lost, it was so painful, because we always felt that we had a shot,” Ginobili said. “Well, you all saw what happened last year. And that was especially painful.
“We had it. I think I touched it. I don’t know if I dreamed it, but I thought I had it. And it was a very tough summer.”
Right after the Spurs fell behind 22-6 in last night’s Game 5 clincher, Ginobili converted a three-point play. On the ensuing defensive possession, he got tangled with Shane Battier, who fell to the court. Battier appeared to grab Ginobili’s leg and bring him down, too.
Ginobili got up, holding his back and looking ticked.
On the other side of the court, Ginobili drilled a 3-pointer. He still looked just as ticked.
When is the last time Wade showed such intense focus?
Winning makes players content, and it takes deliberate concentration to counteract that already-present satisfaction. Ginobili and Wade have won a championship the year after every one of their Finals losses – the Spurs this year and the Heat in 2012 after falling to the Mavericks in 2011. These are both competitors who don’t give up.
But as crazy as it sounds – and hindsight certainly plays a part – Wade, four years younger than Ginobili, might face a more difficult road back to prominence.
The Heat guard’s knee could prevent him from playing at a star level consistently again – unless Miami takes drastic steps.
Wade rested throughout the year, playing his fewest minutes per game of his career (32.9) and sitting out many games completely. He played well throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs and appeared ready for the Finals.
But as much as he insists health played no factor, Wade appeared to lose a half step in these last five games.
Even a reduced regular season with four rounds in the postseason might be too much for him at this point. Wade played 1,775 minutes this season – still more than Ginobili any of the last three seasons.
Gregg Popovich takes resting his top players to an extreme, and it paid off in another title. What works for Ginobili won’t necessarily work for Wade, but at this point, it might be worth trying.
Can Wade become the next Ginobili?
Seems silly to ask that about a player a few years older than the Heat star, but coming off a crushing Finals loss, there’s no better role model for Wade.
Wade can develop his game. He can get even more patient with resting. He can return and play with more passion than ever.
He just must hope his knee will let him.
Jul 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
Wall raising expectations after Wizards met last season’s playoff goal
Jul 31, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
Jul 31, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT
Does China really know what it’s getting here?
Jul 31, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT
As tight as he is with Kidd, do you really think Payton would choose Milwaukee over Los Angeles?
Jul 31, 2014, 1:10 PM EDT
Milwaukee, with Damien Inglis in limbo, now facing roster crunch
Jul 31, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Like most “feuds,” once two rational people sit down and talk for a minute, everything dissipates.
Jul 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT
That means he’s signing with the Wizards, right?
Jul 31, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT
Barring another move, Toronto down to one roster spot for Lucas Nogueira or DeAndre Daniels
Jul 31, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT
“We think he’s one of the top players in the league and we need for him to be that five that nobody has.” —Mike Krzyzewski on Anthony Davis
Jul 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Palmer to marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine
Jul 31, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT
Former Oregon State standout impresses with shot-blocking ability
Jul 31, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
Jeremy Lin in a full-blown dance number. You know you want to see that.
Jul 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Hawks forward, now trying out for Team USA World Cup team, has come a long way
Jul 31, 2014, 12:04 AM EDT
A LeBron James-Kevin Love combo seems increasingly inevitable
Jul 30, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT
“His unique skill set makes him one of the best players in the game today.” —Pat Riley on Chris Bosh, who still is overpaid.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
Pat Riley got beat in free agency, and he doesn’t take losing well.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Scott, not Mike Brown, would have followed Phil Jackson
Jul 30, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT
“He’s playing out of his mind. He’s being Derrick Rose.” —Anthony Davis on Rose.
Jul 30, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
NBA reportedly wanted Bavetta to retire four years ago
Jul 30, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
The elicits a shrug of the shoulders. Not much else.
- Anthony Davis steps into spotlight, is Team USA’s lynchpin 14
- Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay 31
- Report: Cavaliers last team standing in Kevin Love trade talks 85
- Pat Riley says he didn’t think LeBron was leaving, Heat can turn around quickly 55
- Coach K on Rose: “Derrick’s played great, not good, and hasn’t held anything back” 30
- Report: Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am by agent, possibly due to his inclusion in Kevin Love trade talks 43
- Report: Sixers fighting against immediate changes to NBA Draft Lottery system 59
- Team USA going small ball, but how many bigs do they keep on the bench? 4