It was the type of argument the Spurs and Manu Ginobili have had before. The Spurs, concerned that the stress fracture in his right leg could spill into their championship defense, wanted him to skip the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Ginobili, of course, was dead set on playing.

Only this time the Spurs pulled rank, citing an agreement between FIBA and the NBA that gives teams the right to bar their players if there’s reason to think playing could impact their long-term health. The decision kicked off something of a mini-controversy in Argentina, with Ginobili considering asking for independent mediation through FIBA while the natives vilified the Spurs for their “selfishness.”

That generated questions about whether the relationship, so strong since his arrival in 2002, had been strained, if not damaged. But Ginobili put them to rest in his recent interview with La Cancha, as translated by Pounding the Rock’s J.J. Gomez. As much as he held out hope for one last swan song with the Argentine national team, Ginobili said he knew playing at the World Cup was out of the question after he experienced pain in his injured leg even after a month of rest and mild rehab.

If it had gotten to that point (mediation), it might have (hurt my relationship with the Spurs) because I would have been basically disobeying orders. But I was willing to do it if I felt well and in a condition to play. But when the moment came to start playing and doing impact workouts, the pain was still there. I know myself, this is the third time this has happened to me. I know that when the pain starts, it doesn’t stop; taking a day off wasn’t going to solve it. The bone has to heal and it hadn’t or something else was wrong. During the first training session in which I felt pain, I knew there was no way I could play.

I’m not going to say there would have been not point to it but why call for a mediator when I knew I had a losing hand? If I was going to put up a fight, I had to feel well and know that it was worth it. If I made it to the tournament hurt, the whole thing would have been in vain because I wasn’t going to be able to play like I wanted to. Just to be with the team and be able to say “I’m here” — that’s not what I wanted. If I’m going to play a World Cup I need to be healthy, help the team and feel well. When I felt pain I knew there was no way I could play.