Tony Parker is going to be wearing the teal of the Charlotte Hornets next season. And that’s going to be weird. He’s a 17-year San Antonio Spur who won four titles, a Finals MVP, and went to six All-Star Games all in the silver and black of San Antonio.
On his way out the door, Parker published a classy goodbye letter to San Antonio in the Players’ Tribune.
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.
The truth is, I know it’s impossible to summarize what my time with the Spurs has meant to me, in a letter like this.
But I guess that’s also the beauty of basketball, and of life in a way. How it can become less about the summary of things — and more about a collection of moments. How you just … become these moments, you know what I mean? All of these relationships, and conversations, and lessons, and decisions. All of these little things that just sort of sneak up on you, and begin to shape you, and eventually, if you’re lucky, even come to define you.
It was classy and touching, as one would expect from Parker. He covers his first workouts with the team through his decision last season to tell Gregg Popovich it was time to start Dejounte Murray over him.
He writes about David Robinson, he writes about Manu Ginobili (and wishes he still had the floppy hair of a decade ago), and of course there is a lot of praise for Popovich.
However, the part I found most interesting was the praise of Tim Duncan — not so much the player (although, that too), but for the culture he set that made the Spurs dynasty (five titles and a couple decades of 50-plus win seasons) possible.
Because here’s the thing with Tim Duncan: Was he the greatest player of all time? I don’t know — he’s the greatest I ever played with, I’ll say that, and I’ll let the experts take it from there. But here’s one thing I’ll tell you, absolutely: Timmy was the most coachable great player of all time.
That was always our secret weapon, to me: You see this all-world player, this All-NBA First Team, MVP of the Finals, about to be MVP of the league guy, and here he is in practice, willing to be coached like he’s fighting for a spot on the team. It was unreal. And if you think that’s too passive for a star player to be? Well, then you’re not thinking it through on Tim’s level. Because Tim knew the truth: which was that to let himself be coached in this way, you know … that’s true charisma, and that’s true swagger. It’s like he was challenging everyone else in our gym: The best player in the entire league is willing to put his ego aside for the good of this team — are you?
And that was the deal, you know? Guys would come in, take a look around, and eventually they would do as Tim does.
Plenty of players today could learn from that.