SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Manu Ginobili said Wednesday night that he is pain-free and will return to the San Antonio Spurs next week after missing a month following testicle surgery.
Ginobili has missed 11 games and will wear a protective cup when he returns from the worst injury of his career. He is unsure when he will play, but the Spurs have five games in eight days beginning Sunday at home against Sacramento.
The Argentina native addressed the media just before San Antonio played the Detroit Pistons in its first home game following its annual monthlong Rodeo Road Trip.
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"I'm happy to be starting to just think about playing," he said. "For a week (after the injury), I didn't care about playing. I was struggling. I was in pain and I didn't care. (Retiring was) not realistic, but I thought, 'I don't care, I just want to feel good.' It was bad."
Ginobili said he has been participating in team activities, including practicing and conditioning. Ginobili on February 3 took a knee directly to the groin from Ryan Anderson when the New Orleans Pelicans forward spun quickly in the lane against Ginobili and rose for a short jumper.
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The 38-year-old guard was down on the court for several minutes before being assisted to the locker room by Tim Duncan and Spurs trainers. Team doctors had Ginobili undergo surgery that evening after he continued to experience great pain two hours after the injury occurred.
Ginobili said he has no plans to change the breakneck, dynamic style of play that has defined his 14-year career despite the traumatic injury.
"I don't think anything can happen," he said. "I don't know once I'm better if I'm going to step to get a charge. I don't know if the instincts are going to kick in or I'm going to be more worried. I don't know. Once I start practicing or competing, I'll figure it out."
Ginobili is averaging 10 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game.
The San Antonio Spurs booked their place in the playoffs for a 19th consecutive year with the 97-81 win over the Detroit Pistons and Ginobili's return will be a welcome boost come April.
The South American has won four NBA Championships during his fantastic career with the Spurs and often saves some of his best displays for the business end of the season.
Having played 187 playoff games during his career, the veteran has averaged 15.2 points, four assists and 1.4 steals.
Gregg Popovich's team have been in fantastic form this season but their achievements have been somewhat overshadowed by the record-chasing Golden State Warriors. A franchise-best season ensures the Spurs will be serious competitors come the playoffs.