Tony Parker, frequently lauded as the league’s most forgotten superstar, scored 37 points in the clinching game, which the Spurs won 93-86. Nobody believes he’s a star, but game-after-game, year-after-year, these Spurs are still riding him into the final days of May.
The Spurs are 12-2 in these playoffs, and have been as consistently dominant as the Miami Heat. They embarrassed the leagues glitziest team — the Los Angeles Lakers — in the opening round, shut down its most talented backcourt — the Golden State Warriors — in the conference semis and straight up shut down its best frontcourt — the Memphis Grizzlies in the WCF.
Nobody has slowed down Parker.
While all of the attention is fixated on the Eastern Conference Finals, Parker has quietly gone about his business, leading the Spurs back to their fifth NBA Finals in the Tim Duncan era.
While Duncan has played some of the best — and most efficient — basketball of his career this season, Parker has extended his chance to become the second player to win an NBA finals MVP 14 years apart — Kareem Abdul Jabar being the other.
In fact, Parker promised that he would give Duncan that exact opportunity.
Duncan “remembered [the promise] and reminds me every time we passed a playoff round,” Parker told Yahoo! Sports. “He said, ‘We’re going to ride you to the end.’
“Timmy means a lot to me. I learned so much from him. From the first day I arrived in San Antonio he’s always had my back. He’s a very good friend, very close to me on the court and off the court.
“Our first championship we were riding him. He was our franchise. I feel very blessed because now it’s my turn to try to bring this team to the end. If I can do that for him, it would be … unbelievable.”
Spears’ continued: “The Spurs are returning to the Finals for the first time in six years. They’ve won the championship in each of their four previous visits (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007), the last three with Parker as their starting point guard. Parker won his first title at 21 and his last at 25 when he was named the Finals MVP after the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
“He’s amazing and he’s evolved so much over the past couple of years,” Duncan said of Parker. “To get back to this point with him at the helm, I’m just going to do everything I can to get these four games in and try to win four more for both of us. Obviously, he’s carrying the load and he said he was going to get me back here. It’s a lot of fun to be back here.”
Regardless of who comes out of the East, it’s going to be fun to watch the Spurs continue their unprecedented 14-year run.
Duncan may very well be the greatest player of this generation, and the most taken for granted. And one day, sooner rather than later, he won’t suit up in a Spurs uniform.
Tony Parker knows this, and he’s cherishing his final battles with him, looking forward to one last epic against the Miami Heat (or Indiana Pacers, of course).
We should start listening to Tony Parker.
And believing in him, too.
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