Article by: Pete Caceci
Tony Parker, the final member of the classic San Antonio Spurs team, retired from the NBA on June 10. A four-time NBA champion, Parker is certainly one of the most accomplished European basketball players of all time. His impact on and off the court will never be forgotten.
Parker emerged as a contender very early in his career, with his performances sparking the interest of several prolific basketball schools like UCLA and Georgia Tech. Although he would choose to remain in France and finish his tenure there, Parker declared for the 2001 NBA draft, where he was selected 28th overall. Spurs coach Greg Popovich would later say in interviews that he never thought anything of Parker at first, but after seeing some of his highlights, he considered him to be a steal. Parker would live up to be just that, by ending his rookie year being named to the 2001-02 All-Rookie First Team, becoming the first non-American guard to obtain the honor.
As time went on with his career, Parker would experience troubles by being inconsistent with shooting and other major plays on the court. Nonetheless, after gaining some insight from the experienced coaching staff, Parker would change his game completely by raising his scoring percentage by 4% overall. This would prevent him from being benched to allow older players and take his spotlight. With anything in life, hard work by Parker, outside of just shooting, would help him win the NBA championships in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. For his actions and leadership on the court against the Lebron-lead Cavaliers, Tony Parker was awarded 2007 NBA Finals MVP, becoming yet again the first European player to obtain the honor. Parker unfortunately would not remain with the Spurs for the rest of his time in the NBA, as he would be traded to the Charlotte Hornets after the 2018 season. From there he played to the conclusion of this previous season, posting an average of 9.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.
Parker’s playing style as he entered his prime was extremely difficult to match up against. Defensive players from all around the league in 2007 considered him to be one of the quickest players in the NBA. When close to the boards, Parker would be known to slip through the holes of the defense and slash down a layup. In the 2005-06 season, he led the league in “points in the paint” despite his small 6’2” size as a guard. Other statistics that he posted for his entire career were being ranked 34th in games played in a career (1,254), 46th in minutes played in a career (38,279), 17th in assists overall (7,036), and 53rd in points (19,473).
Outside of the court, Tony Parker takes part in numerous charitable organizations. He was the first ambassador for Make-A-Wish France, and during his time playing he would donate a block of 20 tickets for underprivileged youth. Parker also became the majority shareholder of Lyon Basket Féminine, a member of the French women’s basketball league, and that he would take over as chairman of the club after the 2016-17 season. An avid fan of hip-hop and rap, Parker also released a French hip-hop album “TP” in 2007 with several artists contributing such as Jamie Foxx. Lately, he has also pursued a career in television by appearing in French-language films and sports documentaries.
With Parker now joining the retirement ranks with other prolific Spurs players like David Robinson, Manu Ginóbili, and Tim Duncan, the Spurs dynasty is now just a part of history. To be honest, I preferred this dynasty over others like the Heat or Lakers. As much as the Lakers had hard-working legends like Kobe Bryant and Shaq with all-time great Phil Jackson at the helm, the Spurs were always there in the picture. They were never a team that could be counted out in any season. This would only be attributed to players like Parker or Duncan who made sure every minute of every game counted like it was their last. I wish Tony the best of luck with his retirement, and hope he continues to have some area of impact on the court in years to come.
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