After upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals, Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons had all the momentum to snag another title. They cruised their way back to the NBA Finals in 2005. Little did they know that a new legend was on the rise donning the San Antonio Spurs jersey.
“I lost a lot of sleep”
Billups relived the heartbreak of losing the NBA Finals. Along the way, he praised Argentian icon Manu Ginobili for punishing the dreaded Pistons defense. Billups went on to say that Manu deserved to win NBA Finals MVP over Tim Duncan.
“’05 NBA Finals. Pistons-Spurs. I lost a lot of sleep because of Manu Ginobili. To me I thought he was excellent in the series. I thought he probably deserved to get MVP. He was just dominant, he really was. And we prided ourselves trying to stop people and agitate people. We couldn’t do it with Manu. He was just that great of a player,” Billups said.
Ginobili averaged 18.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, and. 4.0 assists in the 2005 NBA Finals. It was in the very first game that he let his presence felt, dropping 26 points en route to a win. He followed it up with a 27-point explosion in Game 2 which included four 3-pointers. Perhaps this was where Billups’ sleepless nights began.
In Game 7, Ginobili showed off his steel nerves in the final few seconds. He calmly knocked down two free throws in the last seven seconds to extend the Spurs’ lead to five. These proved to be the game-sealing baskets as the Spurs went on to win the 2005 NBA Championship — Manu’s second title.
The numbers reveal that Duncan edged Ginobili in the MVP voting tally, 6-4. His supporters, particularly the Argentinians, pointed out Ginobili’s stellar performances in Game 1 and 2, as well as his critical role in sealing the Game 7 win. They also noted Ginobili’s key assist to Robert Horry in Game 5.
Ginobili himself shared his thoughts on losing out the NBA Finals MVP. The Argentinian legend doesn’t seem bothered. He was just happy to be called a champion.
“Well, my mom told me many times,” Ginobili said Wednesday, “and I heard it many times in Argentina, but it’s just a statue. I’m going to have the ring, same as him, and I was feeling as happy as anyone in the world at that moment, so it doesn’t make a difference,” Ginobili said, per ESPN.
His performance in the 2005 NBA Finals was just the beginning. As Spurs fans saw firsthand, Ginobili would play an instrumental role in the team’s success for the entirety of his 16-year tenure.