San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker reflects on his 17 seasons
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Tony Parker penned a thank you to the San Antonio Spurs in an edition of The Players Tribune.
Tony Parker departed the San Antonio Spurs after 17 seasons, signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets. It marked the end of an era in Spurs Basketball, with the second of the “Big 3” (also featuring Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili) no longer with the franchise.
Parker’s San Antonio career featured milestones, accolades, and championships, and an era Spurs fans will not forget. It’s one that will always be in the back of his mind, too, especially after this piece from The Players’ Tribune Monday.
The Frenchman reflected on his nearly two decades with the Spurs, titled it “Thank You, San Antonio.” It started with a look back at his “nightmare” first impression on Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. Though, they gave him a second chance to succeed.
And I guess I bring this story up because, you know — a lot of people, they think of Coach Popovich as this “hard-ass” guy. But I’ll tell you, it’s funny: I might not have even made it to the league at all if Pop had not decided to give me a second chance to make a first impression on him. He invited me back in for another workout, and I made sure not to mess it up.
Duncan and Popovich were given their fair share of appreciation, as well, as Parker described them as the people that made “Spurs Culture” exist:
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Of course, the biggest reason why Spurs Culture exists … this is pretty simple, isn’t it? We had one of the best players of all time, for 19 seasons, in Tim. But the thing with Tim is that he wasn’t only the greatest player for those years. He was also the greatest teammate. O.K., maybe this is a cliché. But I don’t think people realize how much of our team’s entire culture could really be brought back to just Tim being Tim. That’s the truth.
One of Parker’s most interesting revelations from the piece, he approached Popovich in the 2017-18 season to have Dejounte Murray replace him as the starting point guard. He called it a “discipline thing” to move forward. This cleared the path for Murray, who should enter the 2018-19 season as the starter after 48 starts.
I came up to Pop one day, and I told him my thoughts: It was time for Dejounte to take over full-time as our starting point guard. I didn’t want it to be a dramatic thing, or this ego thing, or one of these big media things, but I just wanted to get it out in the open — for the good of Dejounte’s development, and for the good of the team. Pop agreed, and thanked me. And then I went and had the same conversation with Dejounte. He was grateful.
The piece closed with Parker’s “thank you” to the Spurs and San Antonio, to show appreciation for everything that transpired over the past 17 years.
There’s a new chapter for Parker to open, however, in Charlotte, as he plays under former Spurs assistant coach James Borrego and works with Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb and other incumbent Hornets. This may be a surreal sight for not just Spurs fans, but everyone to see in the 2018-19 season. But, the day Parker and the Hornets return to play at the AT&T Center, it should be a night to remember.