by way of Adam Figman | @afigman
Tony Parker is 29 years outdated. More or less loopy, proper? It appears like he’s been within the League perpetually, and his résumé—13 years taking part in professionally, 3 NBA Championships, one NBA Finals MVP, 4 All-Megastar Video games and a few pre-NBA FIBA honors—unquestionably seems like one owned by way of a vet with a blank view of retirement within the not-so-distant long run.
However in fact, that’s a ways from the case. Parker was once drafted by way of the San Antonio Spurs in ’01, at age 19, and after he spent a while in what will have to’ve been an intense Gregg Popovich-sponsored boot camp, the Belgian-born, French-raised level guard was once successful ‘Chips by way of 21 and was once named MVP of the NBA’s maximum essential collection at 25.
Along with his teammates and shut pals Tim Duncan (36 years outdated) and Manu Ginobili (34) getting old and not more efficient, it’s been on Parker to lead the Spurs right through the present lockout-condensed marketing campaign. He doesn’t appear to thoughts. Statistically talking, he’s placing in combination arguably the most efficient season of his 11 years at the task, averaging nearly precisely 20 issues, 8 assists and 1 thieve in keeping with sport. And because of this, the Spurs merely refuse to fall off; this present day, their document stands at 44-16, excellent for first position in a difficult Western Convention.
We stuck up with the slippery 6-2 guard proper after he touched down in Oklahoma Town, the place he’d be taking part in—and, although he didn’t realize it but, beating—the OKC Thunder the next night time. He’d simply come off 3 consecutive 30-plus level performances (32, 31, 31), and about 24 hours after our dialog he’d drop 25 and dish 7 to take down Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook and pals. Identical as he’s been doing for a decade and alter now, he’s nonetheless squirming his approach into the paint and discovering wide-open layups amidst crowded skylines of 7-footers or losing lovely tear drops over them when area is skinny.
Regardless of the stuffed taking part in and trip agenda and the burden of a franchise resting squarely on his shoulders, the very first thing Parker tells us is that he isn’t in the slightest degree drained. And what? It seems like he’s telling the reality.
SLAM: Do you take into accounts having to conform your sport as you grow older?
Tony Parker: No longer actually. At this time I think like I’m coming into the high of my profession, and the following 3 to 4 years, I’m gonna play my perfect basketball. I’m extra eager about that than apprehensive about once I’m going to decelerate.
I do a excellent task taking good care of my frame. I’m all the time apprehensive about my vitamin. As you grow older, I feel it’s crucial that you simply consume neatly and do the suitable stuff to stick on most sensible of your sport.
SLAM: Are you a well being freak?
TP: I wouldn’t say a “freak,” however I’m cautious. I don’t consume rapid meals, pizza, hen wings, all that—I don’t consume that. Smartly, from time to time I consume pizza.
SLAM: You’ve been taking part in extremely this season, however within the media your title doesn’t get discussed with probably the most different level guards. Does that put a chip for your shoulder?
TP: No, I’m used to it. It’s all the time been like that during San Antonio; we’ve all the time been below the radar. I used to be shocked that you simply requested for an interview. I used to be giggling with my PR man. I used to be like, “What? They need to do a tale at the San Antonio Spurs?” I used to be giggling. It doesn’t actually trouble me; I’m used to it.
SLAM: It kind of feels you guys thrive on staying below the radar, too.
TP: Yeah, that’s how the franchise is administered. I simply were given used to it, so I don’t actually care when other people speak about different level guards, so long as Pop (Trainer Gregg Popovich) is aware of my worth, is aware of what I will do, that’s all I care [about], as a result of Pop’s paying my contract—now not the mag and [sportswriters] and all that. So long as Pop thinks I’m excellent, that’s all I care about.
SLAM: Are you able to provide an explanation for what your dating with Pop is like?
TP: Oh, it’s an excellent dating. Arriving at 19 in San Antonio, and he all the time driven me as arduous as he can do make the most efficient participant I will [be]. It’s been like a father-son dating. It’s been nice. I’ve by no means had a dating like that with a trainer, the place he after all allows you to do your factor and will give you sufficient freedom to mean you can do your factor. For me, he’s one of the vital biggest coaches in NBA historical past.
SLAM: He’s identified to be lovely tricky. Whilst you first were given to San Antonio, at age 19…
TP: Oh, you’ll ask any one, any of my teammates, [they’ll tell you] I used to be the person who were given it probably the most. Once in a while in movie periods it was once like The Tony Parker Display. He was once so arduous on me.
TP: As a result of he sought after me to be excellent immediately. I used to be 19, so he needed to boost up [my game]. He was once actually arduous on me. Now he’s laid again. Now he handiest screams at our younger guys. Once in a while I funny story with him, like, You’re going cushy! [Laughs]
SLAM: When he went so intensely on you again then, have been you scared of him?
TP: No, as a result of he knew the right way to push my buttons. The individuals who scream at me—I react much more, I don’t fold. I feel Pop knew that and that’s why he rode me, as a result of he knew that I used to be gonna react, and that I used to be tricky.
SLAM: He allows you to discuss your thoughts, although.
TP: Oh yeah, in fact.
SLAM: Has it all the time been like that or did it’s important to earn that?
TP: No, no, I feel I earned it through the years.
SLAM: Are they on-the-court basketball conversations or off-the-court leadership-type of stuff?
TP: A bit of little bit of each. On level guard stuff, he we could me run the display much more. After I first arrived, he would name performs at all times. Now, principally, 90 % of the time he simply we could me do no matter I would like. He calls performs very infrequently now. He trusts my judgment and what I’m gonna run. Off the court docket, leadership-wise, he needs me to do much more, and I feel I earned that as it was once all the time Timmy’s workforce, and as Timmy were given older and Manu were given older, it’s changing into extra my workforce now.
SLAM: So the management roles of the workforce are beginning to trade?
TP: I feel it’s simply converting naturally. It’s all the time been Timmy’s workforce, and Timmy’s all the time been our chief. Manu, too. I used to be all the time the younger man. As they grow older, [the leadership roles are] converting naturally.
SLAM: Inform me concerning the dynamic between you, Tim and Manu. Who does what?
TP: It’s the most efficient dating with teammates I’ve ever had. Timmy and Manu, they’re so unselfish, and all we care about is successful. All 3 people do a excellent task of now not worrying about our egos and handiest worrying concerning the workforce and what’s perfect for the workforce.
SLAM: What are the diversities between your guys’ kinds?
TP: Timmy is extra quiet. Me and Manu will scream a little bit extra. Manu will cross somewhat extra loopy. He’s all the time been the craziest one, however a excellent loopy. I’ll say I’m a mixture of each.
SLAM: You’re averaging extra assists in keeping with sport at this time than at another level for your profession, however you’ve performed on some wonderful squads, so it’s now not such as you’re along higher teammates. How do you provide an explanation for the spike in assists?
TP: As a result of, again within the day—and don’t get me improper, Timmy’s having an excellent season—but if Timmy was once MVP, the ball was once going within much more. So Timmy had the ball 80 % of the time. And as Manu turned into Manu, I needed to percentage with Manu, and part of the time Manu had the ball. And Manu is a smart passer, so he’ll get a large number of assists. This yr Manu ignored nearly the entire season, so the ball is in my arms at all times, in order that’s why I’m getting extra assists this yr, as a result of [the ball is] much less in Timmy and Manu’s arms.
SLAM: Do you suppose you guys can win the Championship this yr?
TP: If we’re 100% wholesome, and we’re taking part in our perfect basketball, I love our possibilities. However we should be wholesome. That’s the important thing for us. Ultimate yr we ruled the common season, after which Manu will get harm the closing sport of the common season after which ignored the primary sport of the Playoffs, after which Timmy twisted his ankle one week ahead of. So we simply hobbled into the Playoffs, and we didn’t play our perfect basketball. I feel for us, the entire key’s that we should be wholesome. If we’re wholesome, I love our possibilities. I nonetheless suppose Oklahoma Town, Miami, Chicago—they’re the favorites. However I feel we’re now not too a ways from them.
SLAM: My favourite transfer of yours is the teardrop. Did any individual train you that?
TP: No, I all the time did that naturally as a result of I’m small. Rising up I used to be very small, and it took me a very long time to develop and so I used to be all the time the smallest at the court docket. I used to be all the time excellent at penetrating, and so the one shot I will do is to shoot over giant guys with the teardrop. I used to be talented with pace, however now not with leaping like Derrick Rose or Westbrook, so if I sought after to attain over giant other people I had to do this teardrop.
SLAM: When did you absolutely develop into your frame?
TP: I began to develop when I used to be 13, 14. After I arrived to play professionally at 17, I arrived at 6-foot, 6-1, 6-2.
SLAM: Enjoying professional ball at that age will have to have helped you get harder, for the reason that you have been going up in opposition to larger and older guys while you have been so younger, proper?
TP: Oh, surely. Helped me with revel in, too, as a result of once I arrived with the Spurs, I already had 4 years revel in of taking part in professionally and taking part in with older guys.
SLAM: What are you entering clear of hoops this present day?
TP: I’m lovely relax. I love to spend time with my circle of relatives. I love to do tasks. We simply opened a lounge-club with my brothers. Simply did the grand opening with Fats Joe. In order that’s a brand new challenge. Simply looking to get ready for the longer term for me.
SLAM: I noticed you speaking concerning the TP Display on Twitter. Are you able to provide an explanation for what this is?
TP: Oh, that’s my radio display that I do in France. It’s each and every Monday, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s the No. 1 sports activities display in France at this time. I love to do it. I’ve other visitors each and every week, and because Fats Joe was once there for the grand opening of my membership, I determined to ask him on my radio display.
SLAM: So that you’re at the radio speaking about sports activities?
TP: It’s a sports activities display, yeah. I invite other other people. I had Kobe on it, Chris Paul, David Robinson, Dominique Wilkins, David Beckham, a wide variety of sports activities.
SLAM: You interview the athletes?
SLAM: You’re stealing our media jobs!
TP: [Laughs] No, no. It’s in France.
SLAM: As a basketball participant, the way you want to be remembered? What do you need your legacy to be?
TP: As a winner. A winner, and a man who gained Championships.
SLAM: How lengthy do you notice your self taking part in?
TP: I’d love to do it like Steve Nash—I wanna play a very long time. I really like basketball. I’m very hooked in to it; I’m very blessed and fortunate each day. I need to play till I’m like 37, 38, like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. I need to do the similar factor.