Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked after Game 3 about Manu Ginobili’s health. The Spurs guard went to the locker room at one point with an apparent foot injury. Popovich said that Ginobili would be fine, then quipped “or he’ll be out for the rest of the playoffs”. It was a lighthearted jab at the Thunder, who deemed Serge Ibaka out for the playoffs with a calf injury, only to see him return for Game 3.
Monday, Popovich was still in a playful mood before turning serious and having some extremely complimentary things to say about Ibaka.
Is Manu still out for the series?
“Well, we're doing all the tests. One never knows. We've been surprised by part of what he's done in recovery-wise, so we'll see.”
You got that playful jab in at the press conference. What's it like when you're going against …
“You've got some humor, right?
What's it like when you're going up against the guys that have come up through your system (like Thunder general manager Sam Presti) and got to play against these guys in the playoffs?
“You know, it's difficult because you root for those guys all the time, and then all of a sudden you can't. But win or lose, we all remain close and friendly without a doubt.”
Jokes aside, at the end of the day on a professional level are you OK with the way the Thunder handled …
“That's irrelevant to me. Everybody handles things differently. No one really knows what their motivation was or how much was a game or how much was just fact. I don't think it's really relevant. You go play and whoever is on the court plays. It's none of our business who they play or who they don't play, so I just look at it that way.”
You've always appreciated the international talent, and Serge is a guy that like a lot of guys in this league, he's been through a lot and came up through a country that had a ton of turmoil. Even he doesn't know if he has 18 siblings or 20 siblings. What kind of perspective have you had on him just in the past couple of years?
“I think he's a special player and a special person. The way he handles himself, the class that he exudes, I think he's the best defensive player in the league, but I think he's been overlooked to some degree in that regard. But he also does what he does at the offensive end. I think he's one of the most gifted players in our league because he's a dual player. He does it at both ends of the court. But he's also a fine man, so that's a pretty great combination.”