Forgive Tony Parker for his foresight — it does seem a little absurd on the surface to start planning ahead, four years ahead, while the rare chance to earn a medal is sitting in plain sight. His French team is coming off a big victory over Argentina, setting them up with a good opportunity to forgo Spain in the knockout round.
Yet Parker has already expressed his interest in continuing his international career. He wants to win a medal now, obviously, and also be apart of the French program for the foreseeable future. That future includes participating in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
“There are plenty of rumors,” Parker said. “Everyone thinks I’m going to stop after London. I have no desire to stop after London. I love this team. I love our state of mind. It is a good start on the next 3-4 years to pick up medals. Next year we will have big chances in the European Championships. I want to finish in Brazil. Whatever happens, I will go to Brazil. Even if I (earn) a medal here I will not take my retirement.”
Parker will be 34 years old then which, for reference, is dangerously close to Manu Ginobili’s age today. The toll of the international game is arduous, especially for an elite point guard like Parker, because the team doesn’t have a security blanket quite like San Antonio — Tim Duncan. Duncan has allowed Parker and Ginobili to settle into less extensive roles that don’t require the same physical toll.
Place Parker on the French roster and suddenly their options are more scarce, placing an unusual amount of pressure on Parker to carry the team (as Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell alluded to in his recent column). He can cope with the extra pressure adequately but that isn’t the crux of San Antonio’s problem; his exposure to the international game has gave him leeway to explore the depths of his talents. On the other hand, it also reduces the amount of years left in his body as his game predicates on his ability to barrel into the lane consistently.
So, in essence, it’s a relationship that both benefits the Spurs during the season and whittles the remaining years of his playing career. The international game hasn’t affected Parker yet but that doesn’t mean he’s impervious to Father Time.
The Spurs are slowly evolving into a team that relies on his talent as a catalyst for their top-ranked offense and pursuing another medal in 2016 may prevent San Antonio from maximizing their tight championship window with Duncan.
So what do you think Spurs fans? Should Parker participate in the 2016 Olympics?