Home » Sports » The Duality of Manu: Ginobili as Private Joker

The Duality of Manu: Ginobili as Private Joker

Private Joker

Private Joker’s heart says “Peace”. His head tells Joker he is “Born to Kill”.

Who knew Manu Ginobili was channeling Private Joker all along? Perhaps only someone with a military background. Someone like Gregg Popovich. Maybe that’s why Pop didn’t trade Ginobili on the spot Monday night. Or many other nights in Manu’s 11 roller coaster years in South Texas.

The guy who could've been the Game 1 Hero, Kent Bazemore,                                     can't stop the man who would be the Game 1 Hero. Photo: D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images

The guy who could’ve been the Game 1 Hero, Kent Bazemore, can’t stop the guy who is the Game 1 Hero.
Photo: D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images

While Spurs Nation is still trying to catch their breath and catch up on lost sleep following San Antonio’s dramatic 129-127 double overtime win over Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, I finally found a spiritual doppelgänger (German for look-alike) for Manu. Stanley Kubrick’s lead character in his 1987 Vietnam War epic Full Metal Jacket.

“Joker” turns out to be the perfect moniker for both guys.

You remember Private Joker. The wise-cracking, Stars & Stripes photo-taking Marine who survived Gunnery Sgt. Hartman’s relentless rants and Private Pyle’s suicidal meltdown. But one scene in particular epitomizes the Ginobili-Joker connection.

Joker gets dressed down by a Colonel for sporting a "Peace" symbol with "Born to Kill" written on his helmet.

Joker gets dressed down by a Colonel for sporting a “Peace” symbol with “Born to Kill”
written on his helmet.

Gregg Popovich is a lot more understanding compared to the unnamed Colonel. Then again, this type of discussion probably happened several times since Manu joined the Spurs.

Gregg Popovich is a lot more understanding compared to the unnamed Colonel. Then again, this type of discussion probably happened several times since Manu joined the Spurs.

While photographing mass casualties, Joker is ripped by a Colonel who spots the soldier’s rather conflicted combat attire. (Kubrick frowns in his grave as we edit a key line for public decorum):

Colonel: Marine, what is that button on your body armor?
Private Joker: A peace symbol, sir!
Colonel: Where’d you get it?
Private Joker: I don’t remember, sir!
Colonel: What is that you’ve got written on your helmet?
Private Joker: “Born to kill,” sir!
Colonel: You write “Born to kill” on your helmet, and you wear a peace button. What’s that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?
Private Joker: No, sir!
Colonel: What is it supposed to mean?
Private Joker: I don’t know, sir!
Colonel: You don’t know very much, do you?
Private Joker: No, sir!
Colonel: Now answer my question or you’ll be standing tall before the man!
Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!
Colonel: The what?
Private Joker: The duality of man. The Jungian thing, sir!
Colonel: Whose side are you on, son?

And there it is. Joker survives the horrors of Vietnam with “the duality of man”. The Urban Dictionary defines that as “the intuitive and psychological confusing nature of mankind to be twofold. The state of being in two qualities.”

In Joker’s case, it was his ability to stand for saving lives while also ending them.

The Spurs many times rise or fall under “The Duality of Manu”.

Or in a simple math equation: Good Manu > Bad Manu.

Can’t you see Pop asking Manu “Whose side are you on, son?” after Ginobili inexplicably jacked up a maddening 27-foot 3-point shot late in the 2nd OT? Especially if Manu answered his coach’s question with the answer he gave the press after the game:

“I was just wide open. I had to shoot.”

Or as Pop put it in his best Ginobili impersonation, complete with a shaky Argentinian accent: “This is what I do.”

Then Pop conceded: “I stopped coaching him a long time ago.”

Spurs fans and players alike have done the same. Even Tim Duncan, who consumed enough industrial-grade Imodium to get over his battle with a stomach bug, had to admit to reporters on Tuesday:

“With Manu, this is what we’ve learned to live with.”

But even before Pop could consider who he could get in return by dealing Ginobili for that horrific shot selection that led to the Warriors reclaiming the lead with 3.9 seconds, Good Manu makes a return appearance.

Should the Spurs playoff run end with their 5th NBA title, this game-winning shot by Ginobili will need its own name. Perhaps the "Manu Moon Shot"? Photo: Darren Abate/AP Photo

Should the Spurs playoff run end with their 5th NBA title, this game-winning shot by Ginobili will need its own name. Perhaps the “Manu Moon Shot”?
Photo: Darren Abate/AP Photo

With one now infamous, Shrieking Spurs Fan super-shriek inducing, game-winning 3-point shot, that throw-your-remote-at-your-TV failed 3-point dud by Manu is long forgotten.

Hidden in the rubble of the ear-splitting AT&T Center celebration is how history was made twice in Game 1. No Spurs playoff opponent had ever scored 40+ points and dished 10+ assists until the mercurial Warriors wonder Stephen Curry put up a 44/11 highlight reel night.

Not Kareem or Dr. J. Not even Malone, Shaq, Kobe or Durant. No one.

And no team in the history of the NBA Playoffs had EVER dug out of a 16-point canyon of a deficit with four minutes to play and actually won a game. Not once in 392 previous situations. Not until Manu’s magic.

With a 1-392 record, now playoff teams in a desperate hole can believe.

Such is life in SA under the duality of Manu. The Boston Red Sox had to endure “Manny being Manny” when Manny Ramirez was smacking estrogen-powered homers in Fenway Park. The Spurs ride the crazy train of Manu being Manu.

Remember 2006? That’s when the duality of Manu came up tails for the Spurs. Hits the apparent game-winning Game 7 3-pointer vs. the Mavericks, only to brain fart his way to fouling Dirk Nowizki to set up Dallas’ path to an improbable road win.

Dan McCarney of the SA Express-News put together the best of “Manu being Manu” list for those who want to stroll down the Ginobili House of Highlights & Horrors.

So as Game 2 approaches, Spurs Nation can only hope the duality of Manu provides more of this:

Spurs Nation to Manu: "We had your back all along. At least now we do." Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Spurs Nation to Manu: “We had your back all along. At least now we do.”
Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While Ginobili hopes to see less of this face from Pop on the Spurs sideline:

Who would you least like to face after screwing up: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman or Gregg Popovich?

Who would you least like to face after screwing up: Gunnery Sgt. Hartman or Gregg Popovich?

About Maury Vasquez

Maury Vasquez is part of San Antonio's sports history and tradition. Vasquez worked with the KENS-5 Sports team under the legendary Dan Cook in the 90's before joining the top rated news team at KSAT-12. His career in broadcasting expands over 20 years in San Antonio and South Texas. Today, Maury works full time as the Public Information Officer for Somerset ISD giving a voice to the Bulldog Nation of students and staff. And his love for sports continues, by co-hosting "Longhorns Unplugged" on Ticket 760 AM along with co-hosting the "SASports.com HS Football Scoreboard Show". You can also find Vasquez Saturday mornings at the Mays Family "Field of Dreams" next to Wolff Stadium, where he serves as the announcer for the Miracle League baseball spring and fall seasons. Maury Vasquez is a native of Mercedes, TX from the Rio Grande Valley who has called SA home since 1992. He is also the proud father of two children, Valerie and Mauro IV. Maury writes for AlamoCityTimes.com about whatever moves him in the world of sports to the game of life, and just about anything in between.

One Response to The Duality of Manu: Ginobili as Private Joker

  1. Texas Sized BS

    May 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Excellent article as usual, Maury. Thanks.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login