Though the San Antonio Spurs aren’t often represented in All-Star Saturday Night, franchise point guard tony Parker dominated the Skills Challenge in 2012.
By the time that the 2011-12 NBA season rolled around, San Antonio Spurs floor general Tony Parker was pushing 30 and nearing the end of his athletic prime. Parker wasn’t the type of player to rely on high-flying antics or physicality, depending on smarts, wit and craftiness with the basketball to put together a Hall of Fame-caliber basketball acumen instead.
Considering he was always a skill-based player who used his high basketball IQ and cutthroat mentality to be the best version of himself, Parker was cut out for the 2012 Taco Bell Skills Challenge in Orlando, FL. By this point, TP9 had come up short twice in the competition; once in 2003 and again in 2009. However, Parker was never the type to give up without a fight and in 2012, he gave the competition his absolute best effort.
Parker competed against an elite group of point guards including runners-up Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, Washington Wizards star John Wall, then Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook and a spry, young Kyrie Irving in his rookie campaign.
For those unfamiliar with the Skills Challenge, which has since been updated to allow forwards and centers to have a fighting chance in the competition, requires players to complete an obstacle course including both a chest pass and bounce pass through a target goal, a mid-range pull-up jumper, an outlet pass, dribbling through impediments and lastly, a layup or dunk.
Doesn’t that sound perfect for a player with Parker’s style?
Tony cleaned up in the first round, finishing in a game-high 29.2 seconds that led him into the next round against Williams and Rondo, who had to go an extra round to break a tie against Wall. Though Williams had won the event in 2008, he fell flat in the final round, posting a 41.4 that fell far behind his competition.
Rondo, on the other hand, put on a more formidable show, finishing the obstacle course in 34.6 seconds while putting some flair on it with his spectacular passing ability.
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However, no one had the juice that Tony did that night. Parker jetted through the course, draining his layup and moving in and out of the dribbling obstacles faster than he had the first round. He drained his first chest pass but faltered on the next obstacle, missing his first bounce pass. Had he made it on the first try, Parker likely would’ve beat his time from the first round, but he had to move backward and try again.
From there, Tony moved on, cashed in on a mid-range jumper and drained his second chest pass before jetting through he remaining obstacles for his game-winning layup. Parker was crowned the 2012 Taco Bell Skills Challenge champion! He held his trophy high before moving on to the events of the following day—the All-Star game.
Parker played a modest 12 minutes in the game, draining 3-of-5 shots and dropping four dimes in the process. He played behind All-Star MVP Kevin Durant in a three-point victory for the Western Conference that saw Durant, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin combine for 85 points.
Winning the Skills Competition added yet another accolade to the long list of Parker’s accomplishments in the NBA.