Tony Parker’s first Olympic experience turned out to be a rousing success despite early indicators to the contrary.
He battled protective goggles, fatigue, rust, aggressive defenses and the pressure to play well for his home country. The solution for Parker was to get back to his roots — attacking the basket, generally by skating past defenders deftly.
It worked. Parker lead his French team in points, including in their final game against Spain in the quarterfinals.
“No, not the most frustrating,” Parker said. “Of course, it’s hard to be so close and lose. But we must say that it was very close … and that’s the team that dominated European basketball for six years. They are the only team on the continent to beat France in official competition over the past four years.
There are many positive things, and the room for improvement is great. We ended up giving in to Spain, but this is what makes the beauty of sport. Sometimes it’s beautiful, and sometimes, things go badly. I’m sure our time will come. The mood is extraordinary on this team. In the aftermath of our defeat, we all spoke (about) our next competition, everyone is very motivated. I want more than ever to continue in the France team and win a title before the end of my career.”
Parker will enter the 2016 Olympics at 34 years old. Manu Ginobili showed that it is possible to parlay advanced age into international success — in fact, it’s likely easier as there aren’t as many elite athletes internationally capable of counteracting savvy with athleticism.
His effectiveness will wane. His athleticism will decline. His consistent attacks to the rim will be impeded with more regularity. That’s a fact that he cannot prevent as he hopes to represent his country in four years. The influx of young talent — Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahimni — along with Nicolas Batum, Nando De Colo and Kevin Seraphin, who will enter the 2016 Games under 30 years old, make the decline of Parker’s game less worrisome.
Compared to Argentina, their core is young, quick, talented and, when fortified with steady veterans in Parker and Boris Diaw and not the other way around, a team that will sustain success in the near future.
Parker’s hoping that time will eventually come in his tenure. For all of his efforts in establishing basketball in France, he deserves that satisfaction.