George Karl: Just Kidding, Manu is Great

You know how a ton of NBA fans just love to hate Manu Ginobili, and especially the way he flails about when he draws contact on the drive?

He's an amazing player. He really is. But most NBA fans just hate him for this very reason.

If we were to round up every single one of our crazy relatives who love researching stuff like family trees online, and if we gave them an infinite supply of diet soda, and instructions to figure out where the whole "Manu is a floppy problem" line of reasoning came from, here's what they'd tell you: it came from ten thousand different sources, but the biggest and loudest and most important of those would be George Karl, specifically after game three of a 2005 first-round Nuggets vs. Spurs first-round playoff series (that the Spurs ended up winning on their way to a title).

Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News explains:

After a Game 3 loss, he ripped Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, calling his style "ugly" and "hard to watch" because he "throws his arms up and throws his elbows into us."

The article continues:

Ginobili, who still gets booed at the Pepsi Center, took no offense with what Karl did, even though he said it was the "first time I'd really been criticized like that." Ginobili knew Karl was trying to be strategic.

"It wasn't something that was said because he was upset or anything," Ginobili said. "He thought about it and he thought it might help. . . . (Last season) he (asked) me if I understood what he tried to do. I said, 'No problem, coach. Do what you have to do.' "

Karl said he wanted to set matters straight with Ginobili.

"I was trying to throw something on a fire," Karl said. "Sometimes you get a fire going in a direction that can help your psyche. . . . I told him the next season, 'You're a hell of a player. I was just playing the psych game of the NBA playoffs.'"

So, you know, never mind hoards of angry fans. Just a little joke! Say it with me now: "Yeeeeeaaaaah, Manu."

Those two teams are about to square off again in a meaningless game tonight, and then again in the first round. Should be good.