Greatness is Consistency: My Time with Manu

Five Lesson's from Manu

 I was able to spend some amazing time with Manu Ginobili in China and of course, picked his brain. Many people have reached out to ask me “what is he like?” or “what did you learn?”

It’s not what I learned, it’s what I already knew and Manu just validated that from his life experiences he shared it with us. 


As we know, Gregg Popovich was his only coach in his sixteen (16) seasons in the NBA with the Spurs. Manu was able to experience Pop as an old school coach and a new school coach. 

What I mean is that in the mid 90’s to early 2000’s, Pop was very direct, aggressive, demanding and straight to the point in his correction with players. He did not “mince” or waste words. He would come right at the superstar the same as the 10-day contract players. He was similar to Navy Seal Drill Sergeant. However, Pop was consistent in his LOVE, care and concern for you as a person, not just a player. This is why players would instantly BUY IN!  Manu loved this style but admitted that it was never easy. Pop pushed every ounce of potential out of Manu that there was! 

Fast forward to the Mid 2000’s to present. He has seen Pop adjust to the sensitivity of the culture of young players that are coming into the league. Many players deal with anxiety, stress, focus and self-esteem. True or not, you will hear many former NBA players talk about the “soft” generation we have now. 

As Coaches, I believe we have to adjust or we just are not going to be able to connect with players. Many NCAA coaches, such as Coach K, also admit to adjusting the way they communicate today. 

In my opinion, any kind of love you give your players is valuable. There will be at least a handful of players in this day and age to handle the tough love. If you want to win a championship, you have to find a way to be flexible, patient, tolerant, without giving in to your values.


Manu referenced that Pop was his mentor many times throughout our time together. 

Some definitions have explained a Coach to be a mentor. A mentor is a Man/Woman that tours your life. They are in it, on and off the court, they seek out their players. They dig into them with questions, intentionally, personally to help them be a better person, a better player, better leader! 

Pop would do dinners and family get-togethers. Manu said there is no other sports organization in the World like the Spurs. 

   It sounds like Pop aligns with our GBB style of Coaching. I teach leaders to tap into four (4) areas of a players game and life: 

1) The Physical

2) The Mental

3) The Emotional

4) The Spiritual


 Manu talked about how from an early age, although he was nervous/anxious at times, he always made sure to FIGHT. In our Super3 camp in China, our theme word was FIGHT! Manu told the players how mad he was when Tracey McGrady scored 11pts in 33 seconds during a playoff run one year. Manu was mad, super mad because he was ON THE BENCH AT THE TIME. You could tell in his mannerisms and facial expressions he was STILL ticked about that incident. He wanted the chance to be scored on. If he did, fine, but he just wanted the CHANCE to compete. 

Every high-level World Champion I have ever had the chance to work with or around has this competitive CHIP! All of them have it! (Kevin Durant, Amar’e, Terry Rozier, Demarcus Cousins, Lebron, Kyrie, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen). The common bond of great ones! 

He won his first of four (4) rings his rookie year! Most players would be satisfied with having success so early. Not Manu, he wanted more. His thought was if he won in his first year, he expects to do it year after year! AMAZING!

Ganon Baker talking to Manu Ginobli


I was talking with Manu’s business partner and friend, Rasheen Smith. He also associates and has clients with the Golden State Warriors. He was able to share his insight and perspective from being around Manu, the Spurs and the Warriors. He firmly believes and has observed that the ability to compete is innate. It is something that most people are born with. It’s developed at high levels if parents foster it, educate their children and help their child develop it. 

Coaches & trainers can help in many ways by creating an environment that enhances their inner drive through drills, play, communication, lessons and much more. 

THIS IS A GREAT REMINDER. I am constantly teaching coaches to also develop players ability to compete and behave like a teammate.


 Manu and I talked about life as a dad, raising kids and our philosophy. Although I won’t dispel everything, I will share a great point he made.

 He makes sure his wife and he spends as much time with the kids as they can. He wants his touch, his DNA, his influence on his MOST important dependents. He flew twenty hours to China, spent four (4) days and flew back. Most guys would, “live it up” and stay longer. He couldn’t wait to get back to his wife and three sons. I asked him when he travels does he bring back a prize from all the places he goes, he said no, he wants his kids to love him and his wife because we are family and our time we spend with them, not for extra toys. They have everything they need. My kids need my wife and I’s LOVE AND LESSONS! 


The reason I labelled the title of this blog “Greatness is Consistency” is because Manu played with the same team for sixteen (16) seasons. Pop at age 70, has the same values and still has the same values after all these years. He had to adjust his delivery but his values never changed. Manu, although he has had to adjust his game, the values never changed.  As he moves to another season of his life, he will be great again. Great family man, great businessman, a great leader in his community. His Values will never change. Greatness is Consistency!

G I N O B O L I ! ! ! (in Charles Barkley Voice)

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