There is no salvaging a bad first impression, some say. But that isn't the case for two parts of one of the NBA's most legendary trios. The San Antonio Spurs' consistent success in the 2000s for nearly 2 decades was built primarily on the backs of 3 players. Tim Duncan is considered the greatest power forward ever. Manu Ginobili, the exciting and unbelievable Argentine, and Tony Parker, the point guard that brought it all together.
The Spurs' philosophy was one of sacrifice and excellence, which is why people sometimes forget their best players. Tim Duncan was even forgotten by the man that scouted him. But Tony Parker achieved a lot during his career, winning 4 NBA championships, a Finals MVP, and being selected to the NBA's 75th Anniversary team. In hindsight, we know how important Parker was to those teams. But at the time that he was drafted, a pretty important Spur didn't believe he had what it takes.
Tim Duncan Didn't Believe Tony Parker Could Lead The Spurs To A Championship
Tony Parker was drafted 28th overall in a largely weak 2001 NBA draft, coming into the league with something to prove to the many teams that passed on him. And while he was thrilled to be drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, the reaction from franchise superstar Tim Duncan was much less ecstatic. Writing in his book, Tony Parker: Beyond All My Dreams, Parker revealed that his early motivations in the league were to prove his doubters wrong, and that very much included Duncan.
"The most important thing for me was showing Pop and Duncan that I deserved to be there. I was aware of Duncan’s doubts. When the Spurs drafted me, he said, 'But why are we drafting a European point guard? We’ll never win a title with a European point guard.'”
Parker proved Duncan wrong by helping him win 4 championships and cemented his legacy as one of the best. Parker will go into the NBA Hall Of Fame, just as Duncan and, more recently, Manu Ginobili did. His contribution to winning those titles was immense, and it's incredible to think that Duncan didn't even think he could do it.
The stereotype about European players are no longer as intense as they once were, and Parker is among those who have contributed heavily to ensuring that. The most valuable young superstar in the league is a young European point guard. And while success eases all tensions, it's safe to say that Parker probably reminds Duncan of his comments time and again throughout their friendship.