Parker Keeps His Word To Duncan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Maybe it really was just lost in translation two years ago when those forever aging San Antonio Spurs were kicked to the curb in the first round, a top-seed toppled by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, and Tony Parker reportedly told the French press that his team’s window had slammed shut.

After all, the Spurs had gone through a three-year ringer: a first-round dud to the Mavericks in 2009, a second-round sweep by the Suns in 2010 and then the embarrassment of the Beale Steet beatdown in 2011. Parker would later say that the foreign press must have had a slow news day, that he had made no mention of any closed windows. He was, he said, excited about the team’s future.

Fast forward and certainly nothing was lost in translation when Parker told longtime teammate Tim Duncan after last season’s West finals unraveling against Oklahoma City that he would return the resurgent greybeard, who used to carry this franchise the way Parker does now, to the NBA Finals for a shot at a fifth championship.

Promise fulfilled.

“I promised to him that we will go back, go back to The Finals and get an opportunity to win the whole thing,” Parker said late Monday night, emotion clearly swelling within. “I’m trying to do my best, trying to be aggressive every night, and I think everybody on the team, we really wanted to do it for him.”

The amazing Parker, masterful at driving the paint, has turned in a phenomenal postseason and a dominant performance in the stunning sweep of the Grizzlies completed Monday night. Parker obliterated counterpart Mike Conley and the Memphis defense for 37 points on a remarkable 15-for-21 shooting, and six assists. In the four games, the league’s most dangerous point guard — arguable if you wish — averaged an unstoppable 24.5 ppg and 9.5 apg.

Perhaps Chris Paul will still get the nod over Parker as the game’s best point guard, but Paul is fishing or surfing or whatever you do in Southern California when basketball ends. Paul still seeks his first West finals appearance.

Meanwhile, Parker is headed for a shot at a fourth title as part of the Big Three with Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Their first came a decade ago when Parker was a 21-year-old kid in his second season stateside. 

During Game 2 in San Antonio, cameras caught Memphis coach Lionel Hollins having a brief in-game moment talking to Parker: “I love the way you penetrate. Mike is learning from you.”

Conley certainly got schooled for four straight games.

“He was outstanding the whole series and he controlled the series with his penetration,” Hollins said of Parker. “He made shots, made plays. One game he has 18 assists, [Monday] he has 37 points. He was huge.”

He has the Spurs back in The Finals for the first time since 2007, the last of three titles in five seasons. Back then, Parker was named Finals MVP in a sweep of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Parker and Co. could well see James again — a different James leading a Miami Heat juggernaut that happens to be the reigning champs.

“This [winning The Finals] is the hardest one and we don’t know who we’re going to play yet,” Parker said. “But, we know it’s going to be tough.”

Even the Heat and their tremendous perimeter defense will have difficult task slowing down what might be the NBA’s most unselfish, precise and efficient offense.

San Antonio’s versatility is practically impossible to limit. The Grizzlies took away the 3-point shot in Games 3 and 4 and the Spurs killed them with backdoor layups. If basketball kept hockey assists, San Antonio would own the category. It starts with the incredibly quick, full-service point guard.

“He can look at a defense and he makes pretty good decisions now on scoring or distributing based on what he sees, where maybe in the past he was a little bit more one-dimensional, like, ‘I’m going to score or I’m going to distribute,’ ” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And when you do that you can get a little stubborn. But I think these days he’s much more mature in the sense that he actually reads what’s on the court and so he’s a better basketball player than he was an earlier.”

Parker turned 31 earlier this month and is only getting better. His postseason is so far off the charts: 23.0 ppg and 7.2 apg. He’s shooting 47.5 percent and 37.5 percent from 3-point range, well above his career average.

Between Games 3 and 4, Popovich recalled the first time he saw Parker play during a Nike Hoops Summit in 2000. Parker’s French team was playing against America’s top high school talent that included future Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph.

“I asked, ‘Who is this guy?’ because he scored 20-something points on all the Americans, just sliced them and diced them and nobody knew who he was and nobody cared who he was,” Popovich said. “But he was pretty impressive so [general manager] R.C. [Buford] and I took a closer look.”

No translation was needed.

28 Comments

  1. Gillsy says:

    I don’t necessarily agree with people who keep saying that the Spurs keep defying the odds. Yes Timmy and Manu are getting some age but Parker who now leads the team is only 31. As players have dropped off over the years they have recruited well. Leonard is turning out to be a key cog and playing well at small forward, Splitter helps out Timmy by clogging the paint, grabbing boards and blocking shots. Why do you think even at crucial times during the playoffs Pop can leave his stars out of the game. He has planned well for their reduced workload and has created depth, which results in developing a base for the Spurs post TD and Manu.

    • Informed says:

      I agree. I often get a kick out of hearing my friends say that the Spurs are old, wasted up and has beens. But, when asked why are we always winnings they credit Pop. So I just laugh and remind them that age is just another word for experience. And that the Spurs play like experienced gunhands or gunfighters; because sheep hearders didn’t wear Spurs!

  2. penetrator on and off the court says:

    I find it awkward when the topic is about Parker’s penetration considering he also had penetration issues with a former teammate’s wife! haha!

  3. Rene Pogi says:

    Tony (Iron man) Amazing Parker, Your Friendly Neighbor. Wherelse would you go? ammm let mah think…. SPURS

  4. kanawogirusa says:

    TP is an egocentric idiot, he’s playing very well, but it isn’t his team, this is TD’s team and TP is not taking TD to the finals, TD is playing awesome.

  5. rukidnsports says:

    It just feels so right. In the last 6 games, The Spurs have been a defensive beast. First against the shooters of Golden State, then changing as necessary to shut down the bigs of Memphis. What a great exclamation point this would be to the most unique NBA stories, ever.

  6. 34yr fan says:

    bronbron, bronbron

  7. blackmamba38 says:

    hahahah be cool just wait for the finals

  8. not a kobe fan either says:

    love this article. i bet timmy doesnt have any idea about every spur is willing to go all out for him.
    tony p will bring the team to its 5th championship and beat the hell out of james. i guarantee it.

  9. TheHumanTorch says:

    if it heat-spurs, who u think wins? Heat in 4. u guys really think green and leonard really have a chance at guarding wade and james??? actually heat in 3. every game gonna be a blowout.

    • ulcer says:

      wtf. ur james cant get pacers done. dont be so sure. lol

    • Torchbearer says:

      i guess ur batteries are out Mr. Torch or you are just lame

    • Kawhi Scissorhands says:

      ^
      This kid is terribly misinformed.

    • M. says:

      Pathetic heat fanboy. Wade is currently playing like a washed up fading all-star guard. Other than Lebron, heat is a bunch of washed up players that the Pacers is pounding to the ground. They would be lucky to get past Pacers at this point.

      • D Double says:

        Some much for your basketball IQ. Listen this goes out to everyone reading this. Don’t be emotional about games really look at the facts. Everyone has bad games and bad series. Talant wise, and skill set wise that goes to The Heat. After seven six games it’s all about execution and what time wants it the most. I am from Indiana. But, I know basketball and I knew that in a seven game series that the edge went to 1. The Home Team 2, The Heat based on experience. Regardless of how old these late 20 something and early 30 something players look.

    • 34yr fan says:

      I agree…..every game will be a blowout …….Miami is too…..should I say it……..OLD !!!!! LOL…………LOL

  10. gonzalo says:

    Did you notice when the reporter asked about “Duncan, Ginobili and Popovic” ? Manu turns to TD and asks “no Tony ?” and Duncan answers “no Tony” and you can listen some laughs at the back … lol

  11. Mamba talks says:

    I respect the Spurs even if they don’t win championship this year, Tim Duncan won his first championship after his rookie season, and now towards the end of his career, the same team he’s been playing for his whole career fought to the NBA finals again.And that just something incredible!

  12. sports fan says:

    Tony Parker is underrated by so many people & he shouldn’t be. He fulfilled his promise to Duncan to get them back to the finals. That’s nothing but greatness.

    • nbafan2013 says:

      underrated!?! he has never been underrated…people always rave about how good he is when hes got the ball in his hands

      • M. says:

        whose raving? look at his salary and compare it with other point guards before you make the conclusion. This person has been underrated and never got his name in blockbuster trades the way other point guards did and will.

      • kavika6 says:

        I think anyone that ranks Chris Paul, Westbrook or Rondo ahead of Parker is under-rating him.

      • 34yr fan says:

        Paul+Westbrook+Rondo+ 1 ring? Tony=3

  13. S. Benjamin says:

    I have to say ‘Well Done’ to the Spurs. Hopefully more people will start showing them the respect they deserve now.

  14. Bryan says:

    im proud of my spurs team defying the odds many people and obstacles presented them. once again they have come in proximity of winning the championship. Even though they are called “old” and “boring” they have recently shoved those words back in the face of all the doubters. They may not be the nba favorite, but they will surely give a hard time to whoever they face in the finals. This nba finals will not look like the thunder/heat matchup last year. if its miami we will face, best believe miami will struggle as we will, but we will not fall in 5 games, much less 4. This next series will go all the way to 7 if possible and the spurs are clearly hungry for it. Go Spurs Go!

  15. mattchew says:

    every guy be humble!!!! and work as a team!!!!!!!!!!!