High flying Spurs are Parker’s team now
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich visited point guard Tony Parker in the offseason and came with challenge.
So Tony, what’s it like when Popovich stops by armed with a challenge? Parker chuckled. Fortunately, Popovich didn’t want a report on the selected works for Russian poet Sergei Yesenin, or whatever book he was reading at the time.
“He just told me ‘Timmy (Duncan) and Manu (Ginobili) are getting older, and it’s your turn now. You have to carry the team night in, night out. You have to play good every night. You have to be consistent,’ ” Parker told USA TODAY Sports. “He said ‘Good players have a great season one year. But great players have great seasons more than once.’
“The belief that he has in me shows a lot of respect and makes me want to go out there and play hard every night.”
Parker, 30, responded to Popovich’s challenge with another outstanding season. Now, it’s not like Duncan is just a figurehead playing out his days. It is, Parker said of Duncan, “unbelievable how he is playing at 36.”
But it’s Parker’s control of the team, especially offensively, that has lifted the Spurs to the league’s best record. Parker, an All-Star for the fifth time this season, is averaging 20.8 points and 7.6 assists and shooting 53.6% from the field, 39.3% on three-pointers and 83% from the foul line – just off his goal of 50-40-80.
His dominance been evident in San Antonio’s past 10 games with Duncan bothered by injuries. Duncan has played just twice since Jan. 22 and in the Spurs’ past 10 games, they are 9-1. Parker has averaged 25.4 points and 9.1 assists and shot 60% from the field, leading the Spurs to a league-best 42-14 record at the All-Star break.
“I’m playing my best basketball,” Parker said. “I’m playing very confident. … They always say between the ages of 28 and 32, you play your best basketball because physically you’re still good and still going fast and you have the knowledge and experience.
“I feel like now is my time to show what I can do and carry the … [For more on High flying Spurs are Parker's team now, click here.]