Tag: Tony Parker


Tony Parker talks about playing for legacy with Spurs, France


When you talk about the greatest European players in NBA history, Tony Parker’s name has to come up. He’s a four-time NBA champion including one where he was Finals MVP (2007), a six-time All-Star, four times All-NBA second team, plus he has a European championship where he was the unquestioned leader of the French team.

At age 33, he is back defending that Euro title starting today (Saturday).

You can bet Gregg Popovich would prefer Parker be back in San Antonio prepping for the season in a lower-risk environment, but Parker told ESPN that playing for this title is about his legacy, and he can’t pass it up.

“My idol was Michael Jordan,” Parker said. “He was always motivated to get better. Lots of people have asked me, ‘Tony, why do you continue to play for the French national team? There’s nothing to prove.’ But I’m motivated, to play as long as possible, to use my talents for as long as possible and to push my limits.

“You look for things to motivate you. There’s history you can look at. There have been many great teams that have come before you: Yugoslavia, the great teams, Spain [now]. They’re a super example for us. … Perhaps in 10, 15, 20 years, we’ll have inspired the basketball players of France.”

Parker is the best player ever to come out of France (a country that had 10 players on NBA rosters at the start of last season). When the discussion turns to the greatest European player ever in the NBA the first answer is usually Dirk Nowitzki, and with good reason. But Parker should be mentioned in that same breath.

Now, he says, “it’s an honor to be in a conversation for the best European player in history. You don’t think of that when you start. You have all the names, guys like [Toni] Kukoc, [Drazen] Petrovic who stood out in European basketball. It’s bizarre to think of someone from France being near No. 1.”

It’s not as bizarre as it used to be, which is part of Parker’s legacy.

Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

Who has the NBA’s best starting lineup?

The Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut)?

The Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov)?

The Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan)?

The Clippers (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)?

Take your pick between those four or other contenders like the Thunder, Rockets or Bulls.

But there’s one team that belongs in the discussion despite two oddities:

  • All five projected starters played for the team last season, but its projected starting lineup didn’t log a single minute together.
  • The team missed the playoffs.

Yup, the Heat with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Bosh was sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots just after Miami traded for Dragic. So, the lineup’s debut was postponed to this season.

On paper, the Heat have it all – offense and defense inside and out. They’re balanced, and nobody is playing out of position.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cautions against expecting instant gratification.

Spoelstra, via Zach Lowe of Grantland:

“It’s not the kind of lineup where you can just throw it out there, and you know it will work,” Spoelstra says. “It’s going to take practice.”

The biggest question with the Heat’s top lineup is health, especially Wade. He’s 33 and has a history of knee problems. There are also questions about Whiteside’s ability to perform over a full season, Bosh’s rust and Deng’s longevity.

But those are all individual concerns.

Like I said, there’s a lot to like about this unit as a whole. The one area for caution is probably Dragic and Wade sharing ball-handling duties. Though they play different positions – Dragic point guard and Wade shooting guard – both are used to being the lead guard. That could take more time to sort out.

Mostly, though, I think Spoelstra is just trying to lower expectations. The less people think of a team, the more opportunity the coach has to impress (and the less blame he’ll take if the team falters).

Sneaky good summer move: Spurs trade for Ray McCallum

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

If you didn’t see the 30 games Ray McCallum played as a starter for the Sacramento Kings to close out last season, I can’t blame you. By the time they got around to hiring George Karl things had gone sideways in the California capital and this team was not headed to the playoffs.

But the second-year point guard looked pretty good. The son of a coach who plays a high IQ game and does a lot of the little things right, he averaged 11.2 points a game as a starter, shot 34 percent from three at that time, and dished out 4.3 assists a night. He’s a solid defender (but not a stopper, as he had been billed). He’s got good handles and uses that skill to weave through a defense to create havoc and open up angles. While his shot and shot selection could still use some work, this is an improving young player entering just his third season who can be a solid part of the point guard rotation on any team.

The Spurs snatched him up for a second round pick.

It was one of the quieter moves of a busy summer, but it was about the most Spurs thing ever. They pick up a solid player making less than $1 million a year for next to nothing. (You can see why the Kings made the move, they have Rajon Rondo and Darren Collison, McCallum would be buried on their bench.)

The Spurs are high on him as someone they trust to step in and guide the offense, something mentioned in Buck Harvey’s feature on McCallum in the Express-News.

While they don’t think McCallum will be the defender Cory Joseph is, they see him as someone who can run a team. If Tony Parker suffers injuries again, McCallum could be a key to the season.

McCallum is not Parker — if the French guard suffers an injury again it’s a big blow to the Spurs. And they can’t afford those kinds of setbacks with the quality of teams at the top of the Western Conference.

But mixed with Patty Mills, McCallum will play a significant role for the Spurs getting Parker time on the bench in games, plus nights off. McCallum will step right in and do Spurs-like things, making smart plays and focusing on doing what he does well, not trying to do too much.

I expect McCallum will thrive this season. And we’ll all look back at the McCallum trade and say “it’s the Spurs doing Spurs things again.”

Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket

New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves

New Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry has big plans for Alexis Ajinca. In the coach’s up-tempo offense, Ajinca’s athleticism makes a good fit behind and next to Anthony Davis. With that, Ajinca is expected to see an increased role and minutes (even though the team did bring back Omer Asik). That’s why they signed him to a four-year, $20 million deal this offseason.

Ajinca has been playing this summer with the French national team as they prepare to defend their EuroBasket title and earn a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, a week before the tournament starts, the Pelicans have pulled him out, reports eurohoops.net.

The player felt pain in his Achilles tendon since the start of the preparation period at the 20th of July. His condition remained unchanged, however the New Orleans Pelicans decided to forbid him from playing in the Eurobasket.

This was not a situation that was so bad New Orleans said he couldn’t even consider playing for his country; it was a relatively minor issue. But as it hasn’t improved, the Pelicans decided not to risk anything with a guy they just agreed to lock down for four years.

This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites. They still have Rudy Gobert at center, Tony Parker at the point, plus guys like Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Evan Fournier on the roster. They could defend their crown, but that task just got a little harder.

LaMarcus Aldridge says he’s not trying to fill Tim Duncan’s shoes

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers
Leave a comment

There is not going to be another Tim Duncan. Ever. That high-IQ, fundamentally sound game with sustained success throughout his career, the five rings, the two MVPs, the three Finals MVPs, the lifting of one small market franchise up to the summit of the game and keeping it there for 15 years, it’s an incredible legacy.

Nobody understands there is not going to be another Duncan like LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge had his pick of NBA landing spots chose the Spurs, but he wants people to know that stepping into Duncan’s shoes was not in his plans — in part because Duncan is still in those shoes. He talked with Sam Amick of the USA Today about whether he was worried about Duncan’s shadow.

“No, because I’m not trying to be Tim Duncan. I’m not trying to fill his shoes. No one is going to fill his shoes. First of all, he started there and he ended there. I’m not doing that. I didn’t start there. There’s no pressure, because I didn’t start there and I’m not trying to be him. My game is totally different than his.

“I never had any issues with it. I think the media blew it up more, like I’m trying to fill his spot and take his role. I was like, ‘No, I’m trying to be me.’ I feel like me being there with Pop in the system with the guys, I should be ok. That was what I was weighing: Go to Phoenix, be the face and the guy, or go to San Antonio and probably win sooner and be more blended in. That was my issue. And I was like, ‘If y’all want me to come here and average 12 or 13 points, that’s not who I am. I like scoring.’ They were like, ‘No, we want you to play in the system, but you scoring is needed here.’ Once I heard that, I was fine.”

It will be interesting to see how Aldridge’s need for touches and points plays out in the more team-first culture Duncan and Gregg Popovich have built. They do need his scoring, but it’s also about the threat of Aldridge’s scoring that opens up shots for everyone. He has to buy into that team concept for it all to work (and I expect he will).

With that, Aldridge’s scoring may take a slight dip — he will command double teams in the post (and at the elbow, and a lot of other places) and when he passes out of that the Spurs will whip the ball to an open shooter. He’s not just getting a re-post.

What Aldridge brings is an upgrade of Tiago Splitter, a player who can protect the paint and play good defense, and then on the other end scores inside and opens everything up. Aldridge can also pick-and-pop with Tony Parker (and Manu Ginobili). He can knock down midrange fadeaways. There are a lot of options.

And they all work because Aldridge is Aldridge and not Duncan.