Manu fractures hand. Prognosis: Spurs are doomed

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On Monday afternoon the good news out of the Spurs organization was that Gary Neal would be sent on a rehab assignment to the Spurs Development League team, the Austin Toros, and would most likely return to the Spurs lineup by “week’s end.”

Within hours, the mood around the Spurs dramatically shifted.

Near the end of the first half of the Spurs’ 106-96 loss to the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves, Manu Ginobili fractured the fifth metacarpal on his left hand, his shooting hand.

 

 

Ginobili will receive further examination by team doctors today, but you can bank on him being inactive for the foreseeable future.

As the lifeblood of the Spurs roster, the absence of Manu is a potentially catastrophic blow to the Spurs’ championship aspirations. While it is advisable not to suppress your panic, it’s also worth stating the obvious: the possibility of injuries constantly lurks in the shadows for every NBA team and its players. Moreover, the lockout-induced schedule of back-t0-back’s and back-t0-back-to-back’s has already demonstrated this season’s manic tendencies in which a team can win handily on one night and then get easily dismissed the next.

Currently, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat look poised to confirm the Finals matchup suspicions of NBA hoopheads. And for the majority of the players on each of those rosters it would be their first NBA Championship — we're talking LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook. On the other hand, the Mavericks are struggling to reclaim their form of last season that led them to the NBA promised land.

My point is that the San Antonio Spurs have held four NBA Championships since winning their last one against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. Of course Spurs fans would like more, but moments such as these where star players like Manu go down only serve to highlight just how fragile championship ambitions can be and just how much luck is involved in winning an NBA Championship.

The 2011 - 2012 NBA season is barely one week old, and for many Spurs fans waking up this morning it might feel like it’s already over.

But keep the faith. Things can change quickly.

Spurs sophomore shooting guard James Anderson will earn the starting nod in Ginobili’s absence. And the first test without Ginobili takes place tomorrow night at the AT&T Center as the Spurs host the Golden State Warriors at 7:30 pm.

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