Ginobili named NBA's best sixth man for 2007-08 season

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili -- good enough to be a starter on about any team -- won the NBA's sixth man award given to the league's best reserve on Monday.

Ginobili led the Spurs in scoring, averaging a career-high 19.5 points to go with 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Ginobili came off the bench in 51 of the 74 games he played this season.

"I really don't care about coming from the bench if that helps the team to win a championship," Ginobili said.

The Spurs have a 1-0 lead over the Phoenix Suns in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series. Suns guard Leandro Barbosa won the award last year and Ginobili came in second.

"He's one of the better players in the NBA, who just happens to come off the bench," said Spurs starting guard Michael Finley. "Any other team in the league, he'd probably be starting, but for him to come off the bench and put his ego aside it just shows what kind of team we have, and more importantly what kind of player and All-Star he is."

Ginobili got 123 of 124 first-place votes for 615 points. Barbosa came in second with 283 points and the Dallas Mavericks' Jason Terry was third with 44.

"It was no race. Just like, when [is it] going to happen," said Spurs point guard Tony Parker. "He was our best player all year long."

The 6-foot-6 guard gives the team a boost of energy off the bench. He was drafted by the Spurs in 1999 in the second round with the 57th overall pick. The Argentinian has been with the team for three of its four title runs.

"That is what I'm going to remember when I retire, the rings I have," Ginobili said. "Not the fact I played 28 minutes or 33 or my name being called in the starting lineup. That's not going to make the difference in 10 to 15 years."

Ginobili enters the game, usually about midway through the first quarter, to huge roars from the crowd when the Spurs announcer yells "Here comes Manu!"

"I just consider myself a player, a team player," Ginobili said. "So this year [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] thought it was more important for me to come from the bench, so I just try to do it the best way I can."

Popovich gave all the credit to Ginobili, who is the first Spurs player to win the award.

"Manu is a person who's much more concerned with the group than he is about himself," Popovich said. "He got over himself a long time ago. ... I don't think there are too many All-Stars that coaches in this league can go to and say, 'You've been great. Now you're going to come off the bench.' So I'm very fortunate."

Ginobili shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range in his sixth regular NBA season and when he drives the lane -- routinely picking up bumps and bruises along the way -- he's known for putting the ball in from seemingly impossible angles.

"Before I got here I used to think those shots that he made were luck, and what we called, when I was growing up, fluke shots," Finley said. "Now that I'm his teammate and I see him on a daily basis, that's his game."

Ginobili hit the game-winning layup in the Spurs' Game 1 win over the Suns on Saturday with 1.8 seconds on the clock in double overtime.

The last sixth man award winner to lead his team in scoring was Milwaukee's Ricky Pierce. He averaged 23 points when he won the award in 1990.