The Basketball Hall of Fame enshrined their Class of 2022 yesterday, which was headlined by San Antonio Spurs legend Manu Ginobili and Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway. Now that festivities are complete, fans are already beginning to wonder who will be part of the Class of 2023. One name frequently mentioned in the early going is Ginobili's teammate Tony Parker.
Parker spent all but one season of his career with San Antonio, and was a part of the Spurs' four most recent championship teams. Parker was the Spurs starting point guard from the get go in his rookie season, and he held onto that role until his final season with San Antonio in the 2017-18 season. Parker was a tremendous all-around player for the Spurs who helped guide them throughout their dynasty during the 2000s.
Parker will be eligible for enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame next year, and a debate has raged on whether he should or shouldn't be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Dwayne Wade are shoe-ins to be selected on their first-ballot, but Parker isn't as clear cut a case. Let's take a look at three reasons why Parker should join his teammates in Ginobili and Tim Duncan as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
3. Tony Parker was a six-time NBA All-Star
Parker accomplished a lot throughout his 18-year career, and among his most impressive accomplishments was his six All-Star selections. Parker conducted the Spurs offense as a “true” point guard who could score on his own when needed, but also knew how to get his teammates involved as well. Considering all the offensive talent on the Spurs roster, that was an extremely important piece of the puzzle.
Parker's six All-Star selections don't necessarily guarantee him a first-ballot selection, but it's worth noting Ginobili only was an All-Star twice, although his candidacy had a lot of other things working for him.
Parker's All-Star selections are a strong piece of his well-rounded candidacy, and should be viewed as an asset rather than a detriment to his case. Parker managed to stand out on a star-filled team often enough to get selected six times, and that's impressive in its own right. While it isn't the most All-Star selections ever, this should aid Parker's case.
2. Tony Parker was a four-time NBA champion
As previously mentioned, Parker was a big part of the Spurs four most recent championship teams. Parker is part of an exclusive list of players that have won four or more championships throughout their careers, and in the modern era of the NBA, it's been much tougher to do than some of the names alongside him or ahead of him on that list.
Again, Parker was the conductor of the Spurs' offense on their way to those championships. They pulled out some tightly contested series, with their 2005 series against the Detroit Pistons going all the way to seven games. Without Parker, there's a decent chance that San Antonio isn't able to pull out at least one of those titles.
Winning titles is a big part of his Hall of Fame candidacy. It's tough to make it in without winning at least one title along the way, especially on the first-ballot. Parker wasn't always the flashiest player, but he helped the Spurs consistently win on the biggest stages during his career, and that should allow him to earn entry to the Hall of Fame on his first try.
1. Tony Parker was the MVP of the 2007 Finals
The biggest thing Parker has working in his favor is his Finals MVP award from the 2007 NBA Finals. Parker played a huge role in helping the Spurs sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in LeBron James' first trip to the Finals, and he rightfully won an MVP award for his efforts throughout the series.
During the four game series, Parker averaged 24.5 points per game, five rebounds per game, and 3.3 assists per game. Parker also shot an incredible 56.8 percent from the field and an even better 57.1 percent from behind the arc. It was a masterclass in offensive basketball from Parker, and it wasn't surprising to see him walk away with the Finals MVP award from the series.
Winning MVP on the game's biggest stage is an honor that not many earn, and this may end up being the accolade that pushes Parker's candidacy over the top. He was always great in the playoffs, and if he wasn't sharing the court with players like Duncan and Ginobili, he may have gotten more recognition. Parker was wildly underrated throughout his career, but when it comes to his Hall of Fame candidacy, he shouldn't be overlooked on his first-ballot.