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Call from Michael Jordan helped seal Tony Parker’s decision to leave Spurs

tony parker, michael jordan

Veteran point guard Tony Parker shocked the NBA community this offseason when he signed a two-year, $10 million free agent deal with the Charlotte Hornets, ending his storied run with the San Antonio Spurs.

Everyone thought the main reason Parker left the Spurs to sign with the Hornets was that Charlotte offered him more money.

Turns out, that wasn’t the case.

The Spurs offered Parker the same deal the Hornets did but weren’t offering him the same role. Dejounte Murray is the starting point guard in San Antonio now, and Patty Mills backs him up. Parker wouldn’t have gotten much playing time.

With the Hornets, though, Parker will get to play significant minutes and be teammates with his close friend, Nicolas Batum. The future Hall of Famer also says the chance to play for his childhood idol, Hornets owner and Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, was something he couldn’t pass up.

“When M.J. called, it was over,” Parker told Matt Rochinski of Hornets.com. “He texted me, and everybody that’s known me for many years knows M.J. was always my idol growing up. He was my favorite player and that’s who I wanted to become. He made me want to play basketball. The way that he carried himself through his career was a great example for me to follow during the Bulls’ years, Dream Team and all that.

“That’s when basketball exploded in Europe. For me, it’s like I’m closing my basketball chapter playing for Michael, my last couple of years in the NBA. I thought it was pretty cool.”

Tony Parker appeared in 55 contests last season with the Spurs and averaged 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 45.9 percent from the field, 27.0 percent from 3-point distance, and 70.5 percent from the free-throw line. He missed the early part of the year recovering from a serious quad injury.

Parker, who will back up Kemba Walker in Charlotte, will have his jersey retired in San Antonio one day. In 1,198 games with the Spurs, Parker averaged 15.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists. He’s a six-time All-Star and was named the 2007 Finals MVP.