Monday, August 6, 2018

Tony Parker Wrote A Goodbye Letter to San Antonio and We're Not Crying, You Are

Posted By on Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 10:52 AM

click image INSTAGRAM / _TONYPARKER09
  • Instagram / _tonyparker09
It's been exactly a month since longtime Spurs point guard Tony Parker was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, and he's finally said his goodbye to San Antonio. Get the tissues, because you're about to be all up in your feelings.

Although Parker had previously said he was open to not finishing his NBA career with the Spurs, many fans and NBA enthusiasts were still shocked that the veteran had signed with Charlotte. While some said it was a good move for the Spurs since they need young talent, others still took it as a shock to imagine Parker in anything but the Spurs uniform.

But Parker isn't leaving his fans empty-handed. On Monday, he published a letter in The Players' Tribune detailing his 17-year career with the Spurs.

He begins with his initial interview with the team.
Maybe it’s jet-lag, or maybe it’s nerves — but whatever it is, when you get to the interview, you’re really not feeling like yourself. They run you through some exercises, and, man … it’s frustrating. Because no matter how hard you try, today you’re just a step slow. You look overwhelmed — and unqualified. And after about 10 minutes, the big boss says he’s seen all he needs to see. That’s it. You’re done. Thanks for coming.

He knew how badly he performed, noting his lack of experience at just 19 years old.
I played maybe the most brutal basketball in my life, at the worst moment possible, right in front of Coach Pop and all of them. Pop and R.C., they had brought in this guy named Lance Blanks, a former NBA player, to run my workout, and he just dominated me. He made me look … well, he made me look like the teenage kid that I was.
Parker acknowledges that his career was made possible because Gregg Popovich took a chance on him.
He invited me back in for another workout, and I made sure not to mess it up. I played a lot better against Lance this time. He still gave it to me pretty good, but I held my own a little bit. And I think I showed off some of the things that I could do on the court. And man, it’s crazy. Because the next thing you know, I’m watching the draft, and it’s — With the 28th pick in the 2001 Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Tony Parker, of Racing Club Paris, France.
And if imagining the kid from France doesn't get you a little teary-eyed, this just might.
And now it’s 17 years later — and I almost can’t even believe it, you know? Here I am, that same 19-year-old kid. Only now, all of a sudden, I’m this 36-year-old grown man. And I’m leaving for a job somewhere else.
Parker then goes on to talk about "Spurs Culture" and the privilege he had of playing in the NBA as a Spur, or as he puts it, "a young player on a veteran team." He first notes David Robinson, who took him under his wing in order to build him up as a player.
Everyone had their expectation of winning championships. But then they also had this other responsibility, that they valued just as much, of, like … leaving the team in better shape than when they found it. And that’s Spurs Culture, to me, you know? Fulfilling your expectations, while also making room for this larger responsibility to the whole.
But then he goes onto Tim Duncan.
We had one of the best players of all time, for 19 seasons, in Tim. But the thing with Tim is that he wasn’t only the greatest player for those years. He was also the greatest teammate. O.K., maybe this is a cliché. But I don’t think people realize how much of our team’s entire culture could really be brought back to just Tim being Tim. That’s the truth.
It's so much more than that. Parker credits Duncan, "the most coachable great player of all time," as the reason the Spurs were able to build a dynasty, why the new guys were always able to come into the franchise and help propel the team to another championship and continued greatness.



After gushing about Duncan a bit more, Parker moves back to Popovich, noting his place as a unique coach and all-around great guy. Popovich continued to give Parker chances, which helped make the now-Hornet feel at ease on the court. But he doesn't forget to note talks of trade during his free agency and Popovich assigning some of Parker's responsibilities to Manu Ginobili during the 2005 Finals.

Still, he has no ill feelings, saying that "anything that happens on [Popovich's] watch, it happens for one reason and one reason only. The good of the Spurs."

Then he notes a major Popovich decision – having the young Dejounte Murray take over as starting point guard. Parker was actually the one to initiate the conversation with Popovich: it was for the good of the team.

At the time, and even now, Parker hasn't been too emotional about Murray taking over and Parker moving on to Charlotte. He knows the time will come to feel nostalgic about his time in San Antonio, but for now, all he wants to say is thank you.
Thank you to the Spurs organization, from top to bottom, for the most amazing opportunity of my life — and for 17 years of the greatest job on earth. Thank you to Spurs fans, everywhere, for always showing up, always being loud, and always, always having my back. And thank you to the city of San Antonio, for being the only thing that I could ever possibly call it now: home.
And while I won’t try to define who I’ve become, over these last 17 years, in a single letter … I can say this for sure: I have the Spurs and I have San Antonio to thank for it.

And I will carry that with pride.
Aww, Tony!!

You can read his full letter here.

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