Spurs guard Manu Ginobili talked with reporters about playing with his veteran teammates, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
Q: You, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, being from different countries, playing the game in different systems coming up, how did you guys develop such great chemistry?
A: It just happened. I think the most important part was just not be selfish. Try to play for a system. Don’t let our egos be more important than the final goal. And just try to adjust to play with each other. I think that was the secret. Then the system, it was about (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) to make us all fit and have our moments, and we all during moments of the game have the ball in our hands and make decisions and feel important. So I think it was a combination of everybody trying to do good and create what we have created.
Had you ever played with a low post big man like Tim before?
Well, yes. In FIBA, having a (Luis) Scola in the post is a big advantage. People normally think, ‘OK, you're talking about Scola,’ but I don't think there has been a better post player in FIBA, a better player than him in FIBA. (Pau) Gasol and him in the last 10 years have been the most important bigs, and we play with him a lot, almost every possession. So yeah, I'm kind of used to it.
Tony said that Tim hardly talked to him when he was a rookie. Did he do that with you, too?
Sort of, yeah. First, because I couldn’t understand him when he spoke. But Tim is kind of a shy guy. You slowly start to get to know him, and then you start having more talks and go to dinner and share more things. But at the beginning it was — but I was the same, basically, with everybody — I was from a completely different environment. I talked to Tony because he knew me from before, but it takes a while to adjust to a new team and make friends.
Was there a time you felt like you were in now with Tim?
I think that I earned his respect. For me that was the most important thing. I wanted to earn the respect of my teammates and coach. Making friends is not the main concern when you get to a new place and you want to do good in a career. So by the end of the first season is when I realized I had got their respect. And then slowly, when you get better and you spend more time together, then you develop a relationship. But my goal was to make Pop know that I was good and could help the team; make Tim know that; David Robinson; and Tony. And then we can make a relationship better.
Do you guys talk about history at all and not letting it repeat itself from 2012?
We think about it, for sure, because it happened recently. So hopefully we learn from that. The bottom line is that they just played better than us in those four games and they beat us. Game 5 was the really close one where they made the key shots and we didn’t, and that happens. Hopefully we don't get to that point, and we play better in OKC where they beat us very well all three games.