When the NBA postseason kicked off last April 15, all the excitement and anticipation leading to it seemed justified: Cleveland and Golden State were there, Boston was crowned West champs, John Wall and Washington earned a spot also, Houston and Oklahoma were pitted against each other, Paul George willed Indiana into the Playoffs, and of course, San Antonio is at its 20th straight postseason appearance.
All eyes are on the LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, James Harden and even Kawhi Leonard – the NBA’s leading superstars. However, amongst all the great characters and the riveting storylines of the league, there’s one player who has been silently making an impact on his team, and at the right time.
Two games in and against a tough opponent in the Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio’s veteran floor general, Tony Parker, is not showing any signs of decline.
Already 34, Parker started the postseason averaging 16.5 points – a significant rise from his season average of 10.1 points. Aside from his scoring, he does his job as a point guard well, sustaining the flow of the offense and, as head coach Gregg Popovich said in a postgame interview, playing better defense.
Parker is on familiar territory; he knows it and he shows it.
In his 16-year career, Parker has been to the Playoffs 16 times and has won the championship four times. In addition to that, he is a Finals MVP, six-time All Star and a four-time All-NBA selection. He has Playoff career averages of 18.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.0 rebounds. Last Saturday, scoring off a teardrop on Marc Gasol for his 13th and 14th points, Parker passed Larry Bird to rank ninth in the all-time Playoff scoring list. He now has 3, 918 points.
“I just feel blessed and feel lucky to be out there and competing at that level and still enjoying playing basketball,” Parker told the media after that game.
It is no question that despite high level performances from Parker, he is not as dominant as he once was, and he might not even come close to it anymore. With young teammates like Leonard, Patty Mills, Davis Bertans, Kyle Anderson, and Jonathan Simmons developing fast, Parker is well on his way towards retirement (some might say). But not today. It is clear that the Spurs need him still, they need his leadership, his maturity, and his offensive spurts to take weight off the shoulders of Kawhi, the clear future of San Antonio, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Once Parker gets and sustains his groove, he might as well be on his way to his fifth title.