In the first game of the 2012-13 season, San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker double-doubled and hit one of the most memorable shots of his career.
For San Antonio Spurs fans, the 2012-13 season will always be tainted by the way it ended, but let’s remember the way it started. On Nov. 1, 2012, the Spurs faced off against a bitter rival in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Fresh off of the infamous James Harden trade, OKC came into the season seeking revenge after being pummeled in the NBA Finals that summer.
Meanwhile, Spurs point guard Tony Parker was preparing for what would be one of the best seasons in his 18-year career. After countless duels with the up-and-coming duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, Tony was now the Spurs’ primary scorer and the conduit that San Antonio’s offense ran through.
Just a few months prior, these two teams faced off in one of the most entertaining Western Conference Finals of the decade. San Antonio fell short in that series, giving them ample time to reflect on the failure and prepare for another run at the title. This game was the first step in achieving their goal. San Antonio claimed a four-point victory in New Orleans the night before on a combined 47 points from Parker and franchise star Tim Duncan.
Parker was relatively quiet in terms of scoring to start the game and only finished with 14 points that night. Regardless, he did an excellent job of finding his teammates throughout the contest, resulting in 11 assists and only one turnover in 35 minutes. He found shooting guard Danny Green for a three-pointer for his first assist of the game less than four minutes in and linked up with him on a handful of shots later on.
With less than a minute in the second quarter, Parker split Westbrook and center Kendrick Perkins with a finely-tuned bounce pass to Duncan. The Big Fundamental took one step toward the basket, elevated for a dunk and humiliated Serge Ibaka with a thunderous slam. This caused the AT&T Center to erupt as the raucous crowd leaped to their feet, cheering for the Hall of Fame pair they cherished so dearly.
This would’ve been the highlight of Parker’s night, had he not made the most important shot of the game with 28.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Green curled off of a double-screen and hit a cutting Boris Diaw in the paint. Spurs fans will always remember that Green wasn’t the most accurate passer, which made the hearts of fans everywhere skip a beat.
Diaw bobbled the pass, nearly falling out of bounds in the process. However, the Frenchman kept his cool and channeled his instinctual chemistry with Parker. Boris rocketed a pass into the corner, where Parker spotted up for three and tied the game at 84 apiece with under a minute to go. This spectacular shot was the highlight of Tony’s game, until the Spurs’ next possession.
With 5.3 seconds remaining, Diaw inbounded to Green, who lost his footing and nearly slipped. Green maintained his posture and regained control of the ball as Parker snuck from the baseline up to the opposite wing to corral the pass from Danny.
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Tony took one silky dribble into the mid-range and pulled up with a second to go, draining the shot as the buzzer expired. Tension in the air of the AT&T Center was interrupted by an eruption of joy from the impassioned fanbase. Tony flexed his muscles and screamed in excitement as Timmy came up behind him and wrapped his point guard in his arms with a ceremonious hug.
This was the first major moment of the 2012-13 season which would indicate that the Spurs were on another level. They finished with 58 wins that year and earned the second seed before battling through the playoffs to face the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in the Finals.
Parker averaged 20.3 points that season, the second-highest scoring average of his career, and dished out 7.6 dimes per game. He shot 52.2 percent from the field that year, his second-best season in terms of efficiency, and the second-best effective field goal percentage of his career.
Even though 2012-13 didn’t end the way Spurs fans hoped, it should always be remembered as one of the most exciting Tony Parker seasons we ever got to watch.