Over the past 11 seasons Manu Ginobili has supplied NBA fans with countless breathtaking highlights. During the height of his career, fans could count on Ginobili to deliver at least one play every game that no one had ever done before. A skill that Ginobili has seemed to developed as he has aged is his passing. Ginobili has developed a passing ability that at times seems to border on clairvoyance. He sees passing lanes that no other NBA player sees and can create passing lanes that just flat-out do not exist. It would not be a stretch to call Ginobili one of the best passing off-guards in NBA history. So to celebrate this amazing skill that Ginobili displays on nearly a nightly basis, here are Manu Ginobili’s five most amazing passes.
5. Ginobili’s behind-the-back pass to Kawhi Leonard vs. Memphis Grizzlies – Dec. 26, 2011
This pass is at No. 5 more for the context than actual pass (even though the pass was great in and of itself). This was the first game of the lockout shortened season and the Spurs were facing the Memphis Grizzlies right after the Grizz had knocked the first-seeded Spurs out of the first round of the playoffs the previous season. The Spurs beat the Grizzlies handily and this pass came towards the end of a third-quarter run that put the Spurs in control of the game. This was also Kawhi Leonard’s first NBA game. Because of the shortened training camp that season, Kawhi did not get much preseason exposure to the team and Manu Ginobili. One bit of advice Kawhi was given prior to the start of the season was to always expect a pass when Ginobili has the ball, even when it seems impossible. Kawhi was ready and waiting in the corner like he had been catching Ginobili passes for years. Nailing the shot was merely the icing.
4. Manu Ginobili’s behind-the-back pass to DeJuan Blair vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – Dec. 29, 2009
The reasons why DeJuan Blair ended up out of Pop’s rotation are understandable. His defense was shaky at best, he struggled with weight and conditioning issues and with the rise of Tiago Splitter and the acquisition of Boris Diaw, Blair was the odd man out. This is unfortunate because Blair developed an almost automatic chemistry with Ginobili. DeJuan always seemed to be at the right place at the right time with Ginobili and was on the receiving end of some of Ginobili’s most creative passes. What seemed like luck at first ended up happening so often, Spurs fans began wondering Blair and Ginobili had a telepathic link. Moving on to the pass, well it is just incredible. Ginobili steals the ball, passes it in order to run the floor, then catches a bad pass from Richard Jefferson (not surprising), somehow knows that Blair is behind him and hits Blair with an amazing behind-the-back pass as he is falling out of bounds. Telepathy is really the only explanation here.
3. Ginobili’s crazy pass to Fabricio Oberto vs. Washington Wizards – Feb. 6, 2008
There is not a passing lane there, one just does not exist. How Ginobili even sees this pass as a possibility is incredible. The ball had to go around Brendan Hayward, over Antawn Jamison and then spin BACK to Oberto. Manu is truly a magician.
2. Ginobili’s bounce pass to Tony Parker vs. Miami Heat – Game 1, 2013 NBA Finals
The best part about this pass is that Jeff Van Gundy does not even notice while he is calling the game. Maybe he is so used to Ginobili making such incredible passes that it did not faze him. Or more likely, maybe Van Gundy did not see the pass because NO ONE would expect Ginobili to pass to a very guarded Tony Parker (Norris Cole shadowed him the entire way). But, Ginobili knew that Parker had a path to the rim on the left side of the court and created a passing lane through Cole’s legs, in order to allow Parker to take advantage of that path. Because Ginobili pulled this pass off in the NBA Finals, it is deserving of second place.
1. Ginobili’s pass to Matt Bonner vs. Los Angeles Lakers – April 21, 2012
Ginobili’s most amazing pass ever is surely a subject of debate as there are so many candidates and this pass is definitely one of them. First off, this game was just electric. The Spurs were on a roll at this point in the season and their offense was operating at historic levels of efficiency. On top of that, crushing the Lakers is better than Christmas for most Spurs fans. This pass was similar to Ginobili’s pass against the Heat in the Finals, as it also happened so quickly in real time, you were not exactly sure what you had seen. Ginobili’s instinct and reaction are what make this pass so amazing. It is also incredible that Matt Bonner was ready to catch that pass as soon as Manu had the ball. Bonner has played with Manu so long, he knows to be ready for anything as soon as Manu touches the ball. This is Ginobili’s modus operandi — always expect the unexpected.
Tags: Dejuan Blair Fabricio Oberto Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Lakers Manu Ginobili Memphis Grizzlies Miami Heat Minnesota Timberwolves Richard Jefferson San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker Washington Wizards