With a stunning trade of Kristaps Porzingis while Anthony Davis rumors ramped up, Thursday was already a crazy day in the NBA, but then things got really batty. Literally, as several bats interrupted a Spurs-Nets game in San Antonio.
The winged mammals arrived in the first quarter, and play was halted while staffers tried to figure out how to deal with the issue. Some players fled to the tunnel to avoid the bats, but Spurs forward Pau Gasol was among those trying to shoo them away with towels.
An arena official eventually came onto the court with a net, and while he wasn’t able to catch any bats, they flew up to the rafters shortly thereafter and play resumed after a nearly three-minute delay. The unusual invasion may have constituted a home-court advantage for the Spurs, given that they were down 11-10 when the delay hit, then went on an 8-0 run before defeating the Nets, 117-114.
A chant of “Manu! Manu!” went up in the arena, as many were reminded of a 2009 episode in which former Spurs star Manu Ginóbili swatted down a bat during a game — on Halloween, no less — and picked it up off the court before handing to a staffer.
“That was amazing,” then-teammate Tony Parker said at the time (via ESPN). “The legend continues with Manu. Unbelievable. … He’s always doing crazy stuff.”
“It’s just a mouse with wings,” Ginobili said. “When you can’t dunk anymore, you have to find a way to make it into the news.”
Ginobili’s lighthearted tone subsequently changed, as he said on social media that “it wasn’t a great idea” to have played bat-catcher, because he was required to get a number of rabies shots. “Please, don’t do it at home or anywhere,” he said, “avoid contact with bats, skunks, raccoons, rats and animals like that.”
Thus if Ginobili were at the arena on Thursday, he most likely would not have made any attempt to nab the bats. That didn’t stop the chants, though.
“We all talked about it, everybody mentioned it,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game of Ginobili’s bat-related heroics.
Jazz Bear, the mascot for Utah’s NBA team, became the heir to Ginobili last week when he snagged a bat before a home game against the Timberwolves. “I was not cool with that at all,” Utah’s Donovan Mitchell said of the airborne intruder. “I’m glad the Bear got him because I would not have finished my warm-up. I would have gone to the locker room if he was still flying around out there.”
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