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Kevin Durant calls Spurs' Manu Ginobili 'ruthless' and 'a winner'

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich often jokes that for years, Manu Ginobili has told him what to do.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant provided a little glimpse as to why on Thursday, in explaining Ginobili’s tenacity as a competitor on the Bill Simmons Podcast when comparing the Spurs veteran to former teammate and current MVP candidate James Harden of the Houston Rockets.

Here’s what Durant had to say:

“You look at Manu Ginobili, it’s to the point now you don’t even look at him as a sixth man. You just look at him like a sixth starter. A lot of people would love to be Manu Ginobili. The reason I love Manu so much is because one play that told me like, ‘Man, this guy right here is a winner, a f---ing winner.’ We played them in 2010, and we couldn’t beat them. We weren’t as disciplined as them, and they were just like more experienced. We couldn’t beat them. And like, he was struggling. He was like 0-for-7. On the baseline, he kind of like let the ball bounce off his foot. And he dove out of bounds, like full-on dove out bounds, like feet in the air, hands in the air, and threw the ball back in bounds, and they scored a layup. I [was like], ‘This f---ing is just a winner.’ Like he doesn’t care. He’s just a winner, and he’s ruthless. You’ve got to be ruthless, paranoid, and like kind of crazy to be in this league and be pretty good for a long time. I think all the good players in this league have that. Manu Ginobili had that as a nonstarter, and I think James [Harden] has the same thing; like crazy, ruthless, like super-paranoid, just like always looking over your shoulder, those types of guys. James had that, and I think Manu Ginobili is like really a mirror image.”

Ginobili, 39, is averaging 8.1 points over 18.7 minutes as a key contributor in helping San Antonio to a 40-12 record, which equals the franchise’s second-best start through 52 games. The Spurs have now clinched 20 consecutive winning seasons, which ranks as the longest run in NBA history, and Ginobili has played a major role in that for 15 seasons.

Durant compared his new Golden State Warriors teammates with the the San Antonio Spurs in explaining the media’s penchant for saying a team belongs to an individual player, as opposed to it simply crediting the entire squad.

“It’s our team, that’s the thing,” Durant said. “Like we get so caught up in this basketball world of, ‘Whose team is it? Who’s the alpha? What the hell is that? Like, who is the alpha? What the hell does that mean? Great teams win. When you think about San Antonio, who has been doing it for 20 years straight -- 50-win seasons for 20 years straight. People look at Tim Duncan as the guy. But Tony Parker won the finals MVP [in 2007]. Manu Ginobili is a huge part of it. Kawhi Leonard won a finals MVP [in 2014]. They do it as a team. They don’t worry about, ‘Who is the guy?’ Because any given night, we all can be the guy. I think that’s what we have on this team.”