Ginobili spurs San Antonio into West's elite

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Argentina native Manu Ginobili is the third Hispanic/Latino player to reach 10,000 points.The San Antonio Spurs are battling the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference’s top seed and play the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night (ESPN, 9 ET), looking for their 13th win in 15 games.

The Spurs have rocketed near the top of the conference thanks to two double-digit win streaks in the past two months. No other team has won more than nine in a row this season. One of the team’s most valuable players has been guard and Argentina native Manu Ginobili.

According to the league, there have been 50 Hispanic/Latino players (not including U.S.-born Hispanic/Latino players) in the history of the NBA, including 20 active players. Very few have accomplished as much as Ginobili.

On Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, Ginobili made a driving layup early in the fourth quarter. It’s something he’s done many times, but this one put him over the 10,000-point mark in his illustrious NBA career.

Most Career Points
Hispanic/Latino Players

He became just the third Hispanic/Latino player in NBA history to reach the 10,000-point plateau. Only Rolando Blackman (Panama) and Pau Gasol (Spain) have recorded more points than Ginobili among Hispanic/Latino-born players.

Ginobili also became just the fifth player in Spurs history to reach 10,000 points, joining a list that includes teammates Tim Duncan (22,468) and Tony Parker (13,471).

It's quite an accomplishment that Ginobili joined such rare company during what has been one of the most injury-plagued seasons of his career. He’s missed 30 games because of hand and oblique injuries.

In the 27 games in which Ginobili has played this season, the Spurs have posted a .778 winning percentage (21-6) and averaged 105.9 points.

San Antonio Spurs This Season

In the 30 games he's missed, the Spurs have a .667 winning percentage (20-10) and are scoring almost eight fewer points per game (98) than when he plays.

Ginobili returned March 4 from a strained oblique after missing five games. Since then, the Spurs have the best record in the NBA at 16-5.

Ginobili has been the spark behind the surge and one of the team’s most valuable players down the stretch.

Since his return, the Spurs have outscored their opponents by a total of 103 points with Ginobili on the floor, the second-highest plus/minus on the team (Matt Bonner, plus-166). When Ginobili is off the court, the Spurs have outscored their opponents by only 55 points.

Despite the numerous accomplishments by Duncan and Parker, Ginobili’s value to the team can’t be overstated as the Spurs go for their fifth championship in the past 14 years.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.