Updated: Feb 24, 2022
Ranked #73 in my 75 Greatest Players in NBA History https://www.djssportsshow.com/post/nba-75-greatest-players-of-all-time is legendary French San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker. Born William Anthony Parker Jr. on May 17, 1982, in Bruges, Belgium to his mother Pamela Firestone and father Tony Parker Sr. and raised in France, Parker inherited his love of basketball from his father who was an international professional basketball player. He arrived in the United States at the age of 9 and his love for watching the Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led Bulls led to his love for the game.
Parker would play two years in the local French basketball league and in 1999 he signed a contract with ‘Paris Basket Racing’ and ventured into the top-level of French basketball. In 2000, he played as part of the European side in the ‘Nike Hoop Summit’ against the ‘American All-Star’ team. Tony’s performance consisted of 20 points, with 7 assists. This magnificent performance was enough for him to gain a good reputation among NBA teams.
He would be selected 28th overall in the 2001 NBA draft by the Spurs and would become their starting point guard right off the bat alongside legendary big men in Tim Duncan and David Robinson. His rookie year he made 77 appearances and averaged 9.2 points per game and was the first non-American guard to ever be named to the All-Rookie First team, being named in 2002.
In his second season, now paired with what would be his longtime star Argentinian star backcourt mate in Manu Ginobili, he would take his game to a whole new level, averaging 15.5 points and 5.3 assists per game on 46% shooting from the field. He was a team player, who sometimes had to come off the bench in the 2003 playoffs, contributing greatly to that 2003 Spurs title team.
Surprisingly, Parker’s future with the Spurs was uncertain at one point in the 2003-04 season despite averaging 14.7 points per game. He would elevate his game in the postseason the next season in 2005, averaging 16.6 points per game, playing a vital role in his team reaching and winning the 2005 NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
Overall, Parker was a key part of the Spurs Big Three, along with Duncan and Ginobili as the winningest trio ever. Parker was a twisting blur, being one of the fastest guards ever in his prime and a fierce spin move unlike any guard before him, popularizing the move. He was known for getting to the paint and his classic teardrop shot. He was one of the great slashing guards, even leading the league in points in the paint in 2005-06. He was never a three-point shooter but would eventually develop a mid-range game to become an even tougher guard for his opponents.
He played in a great era of point guards such as Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Stephen Curry, just to name a few. He won more titles than all of them with four (2003, 05, 07, 14) and even won the Finals MVP in 2007 after beating the LeBron-led Cavaliers in a sweep where he averaged 24.5 points, five rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 56.5% shooting from the field and a +16 when on the floor.
Parker is not only a champion, but also a six-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, and has his No.9 retired by the Spurs. He didn’t make the official NBA 75 greatest players list but makes it here on mine.