When Michael Finley signed with San Antonio in 2005, he was not far removed from a starring role with a prominent NBA club. At this point, you may think of Findog as the guy that fires away - and fades away - with heavily-contested jumpshots from the left elbow, while the only thing he hits frequently is the rim.
But three years ago, Finley was a vet near his prime with several championship-contending teams lining up to sign him. Phoenix and Miami were able to offer more money, and likely more playing time, than the Spurs. What convinced him to sign with the Silver and Black? He thought it was his best shot at winning a ring - which he won in 2007 - and he liked the idea of being part of the Spurs' organization and team culture.
Two years later, Ime Udoka signed for about $1 million per year. Now that may sound like some serious scratch to you or me, but believe me, in the NBA, players coming off a season in which they started 75 games, played good defense and made 40% of their 3-point attempts generally earn much, much more.
But perhaps no one embodies the team's unselfish ways more than Manu Ginobili, an All-Star-caliber player who has won just about every major basketball tournament in the world and has garnered his share of individual accolades as well.
Alternating between go-to-guy and complementary player from game to game, Ginobili has accepted the role of coming off the Spurs' bench with open arms - in spite of being one of the team's stars (there will be much more on Ginobili later on in this countdown).
This is what Brent Barry (no longer with the Spurs) had to say about his then-teammate coming off the bench:
"We've gotten to the point in professional athletics where we just expect somebody to be upset with that role or automatically assume it's a demotion of some sort.
"Ultimately, I think that's what people assume it comes down to: saying you're in the starting five, as opposed to not being announced in arenas around the country. ... I don't know how much importance there is in that for guys on our team.
"He's a starter in a substitute's role. He's Clark Kent, then he checks in and gets his Superman cape on.''