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The Manu
by David Carro / June 10, 2005

- Yes, these are the NBA Finals, but there is a lot of draft talk going around here in San Antonio. It's either Andrew Bogut or Marvin Williams for the No. 1 pick, according to the NBA personnel. Chris Paul apparently is no longer an option.

- Does Detroit have an option to win the title? Not really, if you ask the people here. The Pistons have proved everybody wrong again and again, so we'll see.

- "GO SPURS!" You can ready that anywhere in San Antonio's downtown and around the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the NBA media is located.

- There is a strange smile on the face of Rasheed Wallace when he takes the practice floor the day before Game 1. Chauncey Billups wore a similar expression during a press conference. Maybe they know something we don't know.

- Spurs owner Peter Holt and head coach Gregg Popovich can't say enough good things about team's superstar Tim Duncan. "He hasn't changed since I left him there lying in the sand of a beach after speaking for a while when we drafted him," Popovich says. "He is the same person”.

- Duncan may be the cornerstone of the franchise, but he's not the most popular player in San Antonio. Not even close. “We have Manu," a taxi driver told us on our way to the hotel. "And he is the difference.” Emanuel Ginobili has San Antonio at his feet. The crowd goes crazy when he is introduced before the game.

- We found Ginobili relaxed in the Spurs' locker room before Game 1 and we talked with him about the Phoenix series and how his team had to adjust to a totally different type of game now. He didn't mind.

- French guard Tony Parker was pretty relaxed too. He looked confident and asked about the performance of his boy Ronny Turiaf in the Chicago pre-draft camp. “He will be OK," we told him. "He was one of the best there.”

- There is nothing like the NBA Finals when it comes to the pre-game show. Well, except the All-Star Weekend. Will Smith energized the crowd with his new hit, "Switch", and Canadian musician Alanis Morissette sang the national anthem.

- That was pretty light stuff compared to the hard hip-hop music you could listen inside the Pistons' locker room. The heavyweight champion belts were hanging in the Wallace's lockers. Billups looked totally focused on the game ahead while backup Carlos Arroyo played video games. So many different ways to prepare for the game... None could have prepared them to stop The Manu.

David Carro writes for Gigantes and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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