Tony Parker was selected twenty-eighth overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. Seasons and championships later, he still remains an important piece to San Antonio.
Now in his 15th season with San Antonio, Tony Parker has to change the way he approaches the game.
As his career is winding down, just like we saw with Tim Duncan, he has to turn his attention elsewhere, and that is being a facilitator and overall leader of the team.
Head Coach Gregg Popovich has already started limiting Parker. This season, he is playing the fewest minutes of his career. Also taking a backseat is his offensive production: 9.6 points and 4.3 assists per game–his lowest totals since his rookie season.
With the decline of his play, Parker has not been on many teams radar’s as of late to be the one to do damage to their teams. Don’t let that fool you. Parker can still take over games and make a sudden impact.
The numbers may not be eye-popping as they once were in his career. But, Parker is not looking to lead his team in scoring, he just wants to win games.
With a resume that includes winning NBA titles, being named Finals MVP (2007) and NBA All-Star selections, Parker has been largely overlooked or under-appreciated by many.
“I think he’s always been a little under-appreciated, without any doubt,” Popovich said. “Even years ago, when he was younger, people would talk about the top point guards or whatever, and they would leave him out, almost consistently, all the time. And he’s there helping us win championships.”
Pop continues on and talks about that eery feeling he gets when Parker was not mentioned as one of the top five guys in the league.
“It always gave me a wry smile when his name wouldn’t be included in these top-five guys. But you just move on,” Popovich said. It doesn’t really affect your game or how you play. It’s just a fact.”
Pop may have been on to something but maybe there was a reason that Parker was overlooked and not mentioned in the top five.
When Parker came into the league it was full of prominent point guards: Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams to name a few. Those were the household names.
Everyone knew whom they were, what they could do. As he had to adjust during that time, he now finds himself in another role adjustment 15 years later.
His body can’t react the same way it used to. With that comes a new change. And he feels his role now is much bigger than before.
“I think my role is even bigger on the leadership thing, make sure that the Spurs mentality and the way we play — unselfish, sharing the ball, only caring about winning — stays the same. That was the best thing about Timmy when I first came in, showing all of us how to do it.”
Exactly what separates every star player that has dawned the Silver and Black. Each have placed their egos aside and have done what is right for the team, not themselves.
Parker though, knows there are going to be people that talk about his role and may or may not understand it but at the end of the day, he does what Pop needs him to do, that is lead his team to wins and possibly championships.