Maybe it’s jet-lag, or maybe it’s nerves — but whatever it is, when you get to the interview, you’re really not feeling like yourself. They run you through some exercises, and, man … it’s frustrating. Because no matter how hard you try, today you’re just a step slow. You look overwhelmed — and unqualified. And after about 10 minutes, the big boss says he’s seen all he needs to see. That’s it. You’re done. Thanks for coming.
I played maybe the most brutal basketball in my life, at the worst moment possible, right in front of Coach Pop and all of them. Pop and R.C., they had brought in this guy named Lance Blanks, a former NBA player, to run my workout, and he just dominated me. He made me look … well, he made me look like the teenage kid that I was.Parker acknowledges that his career was made possible because Gregg Popovich took a chance on him.
He invited me back in for another workout, and I made sure not to mess it up. I played a lot better against Lance this time. He still gave it to me pretty good, but I held my own a little bit. And I think I showed off some of the things that I could do on the court. And man, it’s crazy. Because the next thing you know, I’m watching the draft, and it’s — With the 28th pick in the 2001 Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Tony Parker, of Racing Club Paris, France.And if imagining the kid from France doesn't get you a little teary-eyed, this just might.
And now it’s 17 years later — and I almost can’t even believe it, you know? Here I am, that same 19-year-old kid. Only now, all of a sudden, I’m this 36-year-old grown man. And I’m leaving for a job somewhere else.Parker then goes on to talk about "Spurs Culture" and the privilege he had of playing in the NBA as a Spur, or as he puts it, "a young player on a veteran team." He first notes David Robinson, who took him under his wing in order to build him up as a player.
Everyone had their expectation of winning championships. But then they also had this other responsibility, that they valued just as much, of, like … leaving the team in better shape than when they found it. And that’s Spurs Culture, to me, you know? Fulfilling your expectations, while also making room for this larger responsibility to the whole.But then he goes onto Tim Duncan.
We had one of the best players of all time, for 19 seasons, in Tim. But the thing with Tim is that he wasn’t only the greatest player for those years. He was also the greatest teammate. O.K., maybe this is a cliché. But I don’t think people realize how much of our team’s entire culture could really be brought back to just Tim being Tim. That’s the truth.It's so much more than that. Parker credits Duncan, "the most coachable great player of all time," as the reason the Spurs were able to build a dynasty, why the new guys were always able to come into the franchise and help propel the team to another championship and continued greatness.
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.
And while I won’t try to define who I’ve become, over these last 17 years, in a single letter … I can say this for sure: I have the Spurs and I have San Antonio to thank for it.Aww, Tony!!
And I will carry that with pride.