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San Antonio Spurs: The communicative miscues of Tony Parker

By Albert Pérez Oyola
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 3: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the national anthem before the game against the LA Clippers (EDITORS NOTE this image has been converted to black and white) on April 3, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 3: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the national anthem before the game against the LA Clippers (EDITORS NOTE this image has been converted to black and white) on April 3, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Point guard Tony Parker is a hero in the Alamo City. He brought four titles to the San Antonio Spurs and distinguished himself as one of the best to ever play. However, he experienced a few hiccups while engaging the media.

We’ll take a look at a few of those miscues, analyze each incident, and evaluate the impact they caused on the team.

Parker while speaking to French Newspaper L’Equipe in 2011

“At the start of the season, I said this was our last chance, Tim and ‘Gino’ are getting old. It’s going to be tough to regenerate ourselves. We will always have a good team, but we can no longer say that we’re playing for a championship.”

San Antonio lost to the Memphis Grizzlies during the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. The Silver and Black had earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference but were stunned by the gritty Grizzlies in a huge upset. It was understandable for the team to display a certain level of frustration stemming from such defeat.

Parker, however, seems to have taken that frustration to a whole ‘nother (it is a word) level.

In essence, Parker lost all hope in the San Antonio Spurs based on the outcome of that series. What stung the most is that he cited Manu Ginobili’s and Tim Duncan’s advanced ages as the main reason for the team’s perceived inability to compete for championships.

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It’s hard to pinpoint what caused him to share those thoughts with the French media. As stated above, the Spurs had just secured the No. 1 seed in the conference, so there were no true signs the team would be suffering a decline or that it had an inability to compete for championships. This was proven to be the case just two years after his statement.

The comment did appear to force a difficult managerial move, as the team exchanged George Hill for the rights to Kawhi Leonard – so perhaps the comments helped out in the end, regardless of how much of a disappointment it was to hear that from our starting point guard.

Parker during a Mar. 2018 interview after a player-only meeting with Kawhi Leonard.

“I’ve been through it. It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury (as Leonard’s), but mine was a hundred times worse, but the same kind of injury. You just try to stay positive.”

Where to begin? We can’t really attack the inaccuracies of that statement, as it was said as figure of speech. However, what was Parker thinking? Yes, there existed mounted frustration on the whereabouts of Kawhi Leonard. The team had been on a downfall and desperately needed Kawhi’s presence. Those were all good comment options, just like Manu Ginobili simply said he fell for the anticipation of his return through the media’s reporting on the story. 

It should be easy to know that comments like these can corrode the locker room. One could interpret those words to mean he called his teammate weak, and that he’s suggesting that he’s ‘a hundred times’ tougher than him.

San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs

The rippling impacts of those comments were immense, as it cost the Spurs a franchise player after years of methodical development. Kawhi Leonard is an incredibly serious NBA player, and is not one to brush off something like that. Who knows? Maybe that’s the move the team needed and the team goes on to win a title in a few years, just like the outcome from his communication miscue in 2011.

Parker during Aug. 2018 interview with Chinese website HUBU.

“Yes, I will retire as a Spurs player.”

Somehow that comment was taken out of context or was misunderstood according to Parker. The question, translated from Chinese, went something like this: “Is it possible that you will retire as a Spur player in the future? Just like Paul Pierce.”

The only way to retire from a team is to play for that team at the time of the decision. While Pierce may have played his last game as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, he signed a ceremonial contract with the Boston Celtics in order to retire a Celtic.

That’s not what Parker meant. He later came back and said he meant his jersey would be retired as a Spur, as if he would play enough games for the Charlotte Hornets to have his jersey retired there? It’s just confusing to follow his train of thought.

SAN ANTONIO,TX – DECEMBER 18: The jersey number of San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan is retired at AT&T Center on December 18, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX – DECEMBER 18: The jersey number of San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan is retired at AT&T Center on December 18, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

He also seems to be taking the whole jersey retirement ceremony for granted, as if it’s a given, and not something the organization gets together and agrees on an overall consensus to provide as an honor. Although it may be on a player’s mind that the moment will come, it’s not something to boast about way ahead of time.

That’s not all he talked about in that singular event. He also said he picked the Hornets for the role, and that the Spurs had offered “something similar.” This is interesting because that “role” will be backing up Kemba Walker, which is not that much different than doing the same for Dejounte Murray.

Spurs fans have been extremely patient and understanding with Parker. He definitely played well enough throughout his career to earn a few miscues, but where do we draw the line?

His jersey will ultimately be retired and hoisted in the rafters, as it should be. He’ll enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. He’ll leave behind memories of the franchise’s golden days displayed through an excellence model on the basketball court, and he’ll be given credit as the floor general. He earned all of this.

He also earned our employment of healthy skepticism when he provides comments or information. We must take some of the things he says with a grain of salt.

Unfortunately, some members of the team weren’t able to ignore his off-the-cuff comments, and took them to heart. Sometimes, we tend not to think about the consequences of our actions or the words we say, and how it can turn an entire organization around.

Ginobili's career mirrors Yankee Legend. Next

Parker’s now a member of the Charlotte Hornets, but this is not the last we’ll see of him regarding. He’ll make his return to the Alamo City on Jan. 14. Expect anything.

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