In their recent ranking of the top 74 NBA players of all time, ESPN ranked San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker behind players who haven’t earned it.
Staff writers at ESPN were polled to comprise a list of the 74 greatest players in NBA History, leading the historic Big Three of the San Antonio Spurs to get left in the dust despite being the core of the most successful 22-year run in the history of the league. The legendary Tim Duncan ranked eighth all time, which is probably a bit too low but it’s in The Big Fundamental’s nature to be underrated.
However, placing franchise point guard Tony Parker at No. 70 was an interesting decision for the distinguished ESPN staff. While many viewed Parker as the third most important player of those Spurs teams, he was the best of the Big Three in the early 2010s and was the primary reason for the franchise’s sustained success as Kawhi Leonard developed into a marquee talent.
Parker ranked at No. 74 while some of his contemporaries like Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul placed higher at 42 and 40 respectively. For as talented and influential as these figures were, neither should be placed higher than Parker on the all-time list.
We’ve seen both Paul and Westbrook as the leaders and second-fiddles to some incredible all-time talents. No matter what the situation or how much they’d fight to get there, neither could get over the hump in the playoffs. Westbrook, in particular, has been bounced from the playoffs early time and time again because of his explosive yet predictable playstyle.
In terms of individual output, Westbrook and Paul take the edge over Parker. They’re both statistical enigmas who’ve racked up points, assists and rebounds continually throughout their playing careers. Westbrook already leads them in scoring despite playing fewer games with 20,315 in his career. Paul ranks behind them both in all-time scoring but is likely to move up above Parker by the time his playing days are behind him.
Why San Antonio Spurs legend Tony Parker is better than CP3 and Westbrook
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However, Parker takes the edge in career playoff appearances, points scored, assists generated, total playoff wins and championships. Neither Westbrook nor Paul has come close to winning a Finals MVP award as Parker did in 2007, which is what separates him from the competition here.
These players have all had amazing battles for many years and have a great deal of respect for each other. Even with that being the case, Parker learned how to be a winner from very early in his career and took on every role and sacrifice he had to in order to achieve that goal. Parker’s unselfishness is what sets him apart from Paul and Westbrook, whose egos have hindered their ability to reach that coveted Larry O’Brien trophy.
Lists like these are all subjective and will always be devised by different minds, valuing certain aspects of a player’s game than others. For us on this site and Spurs fans throughout the world, Parker is always going to be held in higher regard. Anyone who values a player’s impact on their team and sustaining a winning product is going to hold Parker above these two and by their selections, it’s clear that this committee doesn’t value winning as highly as Spurs fans do.
Maybe if either one of them can win a championship with them as the best player then they can change my mind, but until then, neither Westbrook or Paul should pass Tony on the all-time list.