When Tony Parker won NBA Finals MVP in 2007, it caught many off guard.
Tim Duncan won Finals MVP for the Spurs’ first three titles, and he was still an All-NBA first-team player during the 2006-07 regular season. A major of ESPN writers surveyed before Game 4 of San Antonio’s sweep over the Cavaliers chose Duncan as series MVP, though there was a definite “My eyes say Parker, but my heart says Duncan” vibe to their answers. Even Parker said, “This is Timmy’s team, and it’s always been Timmy’s team.”
But Parker won the award, and it legitimized him as one of the NBA’s top players. He’s climbed in regular-season MVP voting since, placing sixth this year and fifth last year.
And now that he’s dominating another postseason, Parker’s support has come full circle with some going as far as describing him as the best point guard in the NBA.
Parker is not the best point guard in the NBA. That’s Chris Paul. Parker belongs in a class with Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Stephen Curry. This is a golden age for NBA point guards, and Parker is certainly a reason, but he’s not the reason.
But Parker is a special postseason player, and in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he again showed why some people are fooled into believing he’s the best point guard in basketball. Parker had 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting with six assists in the Spurs’ 92-88 win over the Heat.
This game alone won’t win him his second Finals MVP – though it puts him in the discussion right after Duncan and LeBron – but it’s definitely another in a long line of excellent playoff performances, a run that really kicked into high gear in 2007. From that postseason on, nobody else has averaged 21 points on 48 percent shooting with six assists in the playoffs besides Parker.
In addition to his prolonged steadiness, Parker now has a jaw-dropping, game-clinching shot to put on his playoff resume. This is just his time of year, and not losing his dribble, falling to his knees, being defended by LeBron or the shot clock running down is going stop him.
Because he plays with Duncan and is coached by Gregg Popovich, Parker gets postseason opportunities other point guards do not. But to Parker’s credit, he takes advantage of them.
And if the Heat don’t make moves to stop him – maybe having LeBron guard him more – he’ll keep taking advantage of the Heat.