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San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker has moved on and that’s okay

CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 28: Tony Parker #9 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during a pre-season game against the Boston Celtics on September 28, 2018 at Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 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 Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NC - SEPTEMBER 28: Tony Parker #9 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during a pre-season game against the Boston Celtics on September 28, 2018 at Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 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 Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Former San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has moved on to the next phase of his playing career and that’s okay.

Following the Charlotte Hornets 123-118 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, legendary point guard Tony Parker commented on his former team’s battle with injuries to begin the year. The 36-year-old veteran acknowledged San Antonio’s bad luck but remains firm in his choice to leave for Charlotte.

And that’s okay.

This was the perfect way for Parker’s tenure with the Spurs to end. After a historic run of 17 seasons donning the silver and black, a new opportunity arose for Parker to end his career on his own terms. Former Spurs coach James Borrego has taken over as the leader of Buzz City, creating an easy link between Charlotte and Parker.

Furthermore, one of Parker’s closest friends and most beloved teammates, Nicolas Batum, is under contract through 2021. On top of the two personal connections, the Hornets offered Parker what he coveted above all: the opportunity to keep playing the game that he loves.

After playing tonight in Dallas, Charlotte's Tony Parker said he's well aware of the Spurs' "bad luck" with injuries losing "three young guys in a row" in the backcourt but made it clear he has "no" regrets about signing with the Hornets as opposed to staying in San Antonio

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 13, 2018

We need to be honest about Tony Parker’s final year as a San Antonio Spur: it was a stinker. In what was one of the worst offensive seasons by the Spurs in over two decades, Parker’s flaws were put in the spotlight as his role diminished. Through 55 games, Parker averaged 7.7 points and 3.5 assists on 45.9 shooting from the field and a dreadful 27 percent from deep.

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Over the course of the summer, it became evident that the Spurs were trending in a new direction. The organization hit the reset button by shipping Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.

Neither DeRozan nor Parker could respectably space the floor and the only thing worse than putting one guard who can’t shoot on the floor is putting out two guards who can’t shoot.

At least with Dejounte Murray, San Antonio’s backcourt would remain athletic, fast paced, and lengthy but pairing Parker and DeRozan sounds detrimental. It may be painful to admit but the decision to part ways was mutually beneficial. The ghost of Tony Parker would not save the Spurs from their current injury crisis, it would leave them stuck with their last resort.

As someone who’s spent his entire life watching Tony Parker shred defenders as the face of the San Antonio Spurs, I couldn’t be more grateful for his contributions. Regardless of what went on off the court, Parker was the epitome of a team-first player and performed with the heart and courage of a lion.

Nothing will change the way I remember Parker’s legacy in San Antonio, but a graceful and classy departure for a team willing to give him a better opportunity to play feels right.

Parker’s role in the Charlotte locker room is intriguing, considering that the alpha of that team, Kemba Walker, plays at his position. It’s easy to envision Parker torching backups despite losing a step because of his craftiness and irreplaceable IQ. The most important aspect of Parker’s fit in Charlotte is his chance to seriously teach his teammates how to play winning basketball.

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Between his work ethic, intensity, dedication and understanding of the game, Parker is going to leave a lasting impact on the players in Charlotte. Even Walker, who’s entering his eighth season in the NBA, can learn a lot from Tony about what it takes to compete at the highest level.

The decision to move on was largely because of the limited role left for Parker in San Antonio. It wouldn’t have been good for either party if Parker stuck around this season to fill in for injured point guards and hang out on the bench.

If there’s one thing that Spurs fans can appreciate about Parker, it’s his undying will to win and constant dedication to the game. Leaving him to waste away on the sidelines is unfair for a player that gave everything he could to the Spurs organization.

Don’t be mad at Tony for leaving, stick by him during the next chapter of his career. He won’t be around the league for much longer, so there’s no sense in rooting against him.

Next. Top three free agents to replace injured point guards

Regardless of what happens this season or in any season going forward, Tony will always be remembered as one of the most important players to ever represent the San Antonio Spurs.

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