For better or for worse, the legend of Manu Ginobili grew exponentially on Oct. 31, 2009 – Halloween Night.
During the first half of the Spurs-Kings game at AT&T Center in San Antonio, a bat flew in the arena and began to disrupt the game. Without batting an eye (no pun intended), Ginobili slapped the flying mammal with his left hand and knocked it down to the floor. He then picked it up and handed it to an arena staff member.
Videos of Ginobili’s amazing display of quick hands and fearlessness became an Internet sensation, but not everyone was impressed.
PETA criticized Ginobili’s random act of violence and said this on Opposing Views: “To bludgeon a 4-ounce animal to death, it takes either a small man or a totally unthinking one—with no respect or consideration for lives humbler than his own. This is a time when athletes in particular need to be on their best behavior around any animal and show that they have brains and a heart, not just reactionary brawn.”
PETA added: “Bats always try to avoid contact with humans, and there are plenty of easy ways to keep bats out of a basketball arena (or your home). We hope that the next time someone’s life is on the line, Manu Ginobili will take just a few seconds to think before he acts.”
Perhaps bracing for the inevitable PETA protest, Ginobili swears he didn’t mean to kill the bat, and doesn’t think he did. He said afterward the bat was still moving when he scooped it up.
“I just stunned him,” Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News.
Reports conflict as to the ultimate fate of the bat. Saturday night, multiple arena sources confirmed the animal’s demise. Sunday afternoon, team officials reported the bat had actually recovered and flown away.
Whatever its fate, Ginobili’s teammates left the AT&T Center on Saturday shaking their heads once more at what Ginobili had done.
“Unbelievable,” Tony Parker said. “The thing is, he hit it. He’s good at interceptions and stuff. But then he grabs it and puts it in the garbage.”
Parker shook his head. “He always does crazy stuff.”
According to Jeff McDonald of the Express-News, it wasn’t the first time some Spurs players had seen a bat behaving badly during a basketball game. Roger Mason Jr. recalls a bat interrupting a pickup game in Las Vegas this summer.
“You had these big, tough guys, like Chauncey Billups and Rudy Gay, running for cover,” Mason said. “And then there’s Manu, swatting it like it was a fly.”