Building a first-ballot Hall of Fame case for Tony Parker

Game 4: San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers
Game 4: San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The 2023 Hoops Hall of Fame will have several huge names eligible, and the San Antonio Spurs have a worthy representative. With sustained greatness from 1997-2018, it should be no shock that plenty of Spurs are hearing their names called. Tim Duncan was an inductee last year, and Manu Ginobili will be inducted in just a few days. In 2023, star point guard Tony Parker will be on the ballot for the first time. 

No players have been nominated yet for the class of 2023, but Tony Parker is a lock to make an appearance on the ballot. Other notable players who retired in 2019 and have a shot to make it include Andrew Bogut, Zaza Pachulia, Devin Harris, Amir Johnson, Jose Calderon, Marcin Gortat, Nene, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Pau Gasol, and Dirk Nowitzki.

San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker is near the top of his class

Sorted by win shares, Parker is fourth of the newest additions. While Parker didn’t fill the stat sheet like Wade or Nowitzki, he was an elite contributor on some of the best teams ever. His resume is up there with the all-time greats, but I’m not convinced he will be a first-ballot member. He should be, but that doesn’t mean he will get voted in.

It should go without saying that Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki will be first-ballot guys, and they are both better players than Parker. You could argue Wade is the third-best shooting guard ever behind Micheal Jordan and Kobe Bryant, and his 13 All-Star appearances seal the deal. 

Dirk can claim perhaps the most impressive win ever, as his 2011 Mavericks took on the Heat to beat the first iteration of the “Heatles.” Plus, Dirk is a league MVP, and every single one has gotten in so far. Will Derrick Rose? That’s a whole separate article. 

Personally, I have Parker ahead of Pau Gasol. Both were All-NBA players four times and All-Stars six times. Gasol has a more impressive international career and a Rookie of the Year nod, but Parker has four titles and a Finals MVP. Gasol just has the two rings and won as a clear second option to Kobe. 

What could hurt Tony Parker's case

In my mind, all four should be first-ballot guys. There are just two small things holding Parker back. First: Chauncey Billups has not made it. Billups has one less All-Star and All-NBA nod, but his two All-Defensive nominations help his case a lot. Plus, Tony Parker just had to beat LeBron James in 2007 to get his Finals MVP. In 2004, Billups took on Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone, and his Going to Work Pistons won.

In Parker’s defense, Parker and the Spurs bested Billups and the Pistons in ‘05, but if Billups isn’t in yet, one could make a case that Parker shouldn’t get in, either. 

The second and perhaps most damning element of the anti-Parker argument is that Parker may have never been the best point guard in the league. During an 18-year career full of excellent basketball, he was always edged out by Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul.

2009 was his best individual season, and he came eighth in MVP voting behind Billups and Paul. Not being the best is not a good argument. 

What is a good argument and should be the push that gets him in the Hall, though, is he has the third-highest winning percentage of any NBA player to play 1,000 games. 

“But he played with Tim Duncan under Gregg Popovich. They carried him for two decades,” I can hear you groaning. Ok, let’s pretend for a second that a player who gets “carried” makes $168,282,460 during one of the longest careers in league history.

That still doesn't account for six All-Star nods in nine years. For nine seasons, he was playing top-notch basketball, and he also won four championships in a 12-year period. Sounds like he was an important part of San Antonio’s success. 

Parker never dominated the game as Duncan did, and he didn’t quite win fans over as Manu did, but let’s look at the big picture. With just Duncan, the Spurs would probably win two or three rings. With just Manu or Parker, they probably don’t win any. But that was the beauty of the Spurs system.

Next. The Top 30 San Antonio Spurs Ever. dark

All three guys were necessary for success. Duncan and Manu were first-ballot guys. Duncan got in because he’s a top-ten player ever. Manu got in due to a stellar international career and his role in the best dynasty sports have ever seen. Without Parker, Duncan and Manu wouldn’t be legends, so it’s time to give him his props.