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Gregg Popovich: Rajon Rondo Playing with Elbow Injury Same as Manu Ginobili

When Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo dislocated his elbow in Game 3 against the Heat and returned to play the fourth quarter, it was nearly impossible not to be impressed. The man’s elbow was bending the wrong direction, he was in immense amounts of pain, yet he returned 10 minutes later to finish up the game with only one good arm. Many people compared his return to Willis Reed, who played a few minutes in the NBA Finals with a broken leg. I never saw what Reed did, but I haven’t seen many more courageous acts on the court than Rondo, and I argued it earned him hero status in Boston. I still feel that is the case. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich does not.

Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News “It’s really been hard to watch the playoffs and have them make Rondo out like Willis Reed. It’s like, Manu couldn’t even play the first game (against Memphis), and we probably shouldn’t have played him again. He went out there and worked through it, and you didn’t hear any of that kind of crap.”

“It’s like Rondo is the next coming of Willis Reed, the thing he did and the character he showed,” Popovich said. “Maybe he did show character and he was tough and all that, but it is no different than what Manu did. That just kind of angers me on a selfish level, so to speak.”

In case you’re wondering how Manu Ginobili became a part of the discussion, it’s because the Spurs guard hyperextended his elbow in the regular season finale against the Suns. The injury was so bad Gregg Popovich held Ginobili out of Game 1 against Memphis despite Manu’s pleas to play. Ginobili played the rest of the series with an elbow brace and even admitted his 7-for-13 performance at the free throw line Game 2 was partially attributed to the bulky brace.

I agree with Pop that Manu Ginobili playing through his elbow injury has gone overlooked by many critics and fans. I also agree with him that Ginobili’s value to the Spurs is underestimated by many people. But he could have made his points just as easily without questioning Rondo’s return. What Rondo did took courage, dedication, heart, and an extremely high pain tolerance. What Ginobili did was similar. So why do you have to knock Rondo to pump up your guy, Pop? It just isn’t necessary. Both guys are tremendous players who mean a lot to their teams and who played through injuries. Both teams also struggled because their guys weren’t completely healthy. Can’t we just leave it at that?

Chest bump to Red’s Army for the story


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  • Anonymous

     It’s simple. What they did was completely the same. Not similar. Each injury was as bad as the other. But when Manu played and put on the display he did (good but not in his eyes), all anyone did was bash how much he was faking his injury and eventually just blew his injury off. I heard more people just calling the spurs old rather than point out how the accidental circumstances may have hindered the spurs chances. The only reason we are hearing about this now is because Pop had an opinion like every other NBA Player, Coach, and associate. He didn’t bash his performance or say that he was less tough. He just thought his player played with the same heart and got no recognition. Of course all of life isn’t fair, and pop knows that which his why he basically called his own comments a bit “Selfish”. Pop never puts out his opinions, so why would people start to get mad when he decides to open the window for a quick second. Give him a break for having an opinion and remember that he probably won’t say anything else for another couple of seasons.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    Like I wrote, he could have very easily said Manu playing through injury was overlooked without undercutting Rondo. But I guess you get more attention by doing the latter. 

  • Gene

    It is simple.  Ginobili plays for the Spurs in small market San Antonio.  The exposure he gets is not as great as that of the Lakers and Celtics.  Therefore, everyone in the country knows every little thing about them while other deserving players toil in comparative obscurity. 

    It is the same in other sports.  Everyone knows when Jeter or A-Rod hurt a fingernail.  The Yankees and Red Sox are on everyone’s baseball game of the week.  In the past, Stan Musial never got the same publicity that DiMaggio and Williams got, even though he was every bit their equal as a ballplayer.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    That, and a little matter of Manu not dislocating his elbow in the middle of a playoff game and returning 10 minutes later. How can that be understated?  

  • Gene

    In your Taj Gibson post, you have a typo. You refer to his dunk as the best of the bench, when I am sure you mean “bunch”.

  • Anonymous

     True, very true. But that wouldn’t be the NBA now would it? haha. Keep the articles coming.

  • Glib Grouse

    Ginobili was actually playing with a broken bone. http://www.woai.com/content/sports/spurs/story/Manu-Ginobili-s-elbow-injury-was-much-worse-than/4AW7oRS4zEeufktQ1Vmyxg.cspx

    So, yeah, he is more of a badass. Rondo is tough, but I’ve seen nothing to make me think he’s Manu-tough.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    I wouldn’t say more. Both were impressive. Pop didn’t need to knock Rondo.

  • Glib Grouse

    Both were impressive, indeed. Pop could have just said that both are badasses, but Manu is more of a badass. I mean that as no knock on Rondo — Manu is like the dude in The Most Interesting Man in the World commercials. We’ve now seen him take a bat out of mid-air with his hand so a game could continue, play with a broken nose, and now play with a broken bone in his elbow.