Tim Duncan claimed Spurs wouldn’t win a title with Tony Parker after 2001 NBA Draft
Throughout his 18-year NBA career, Tony Parker established himself as one of the greatest point guards of his generation and one of the finest players to have come out of Europe. More importantly, he was a winner, helping the San Antonio Spurs win four championships with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
But before he earned his place with the Spurs, the Frenchman first had to prove himself, not only to head coach Gregg Popovich but also to his teammates. Duncan, Parker reveals, wasn’t particularly impressed with him at first.
In an excerpt from his book, “Tony Parker: Beyond All My Dreams,” Parker said that one of his motivations when he played early in his career was proving his doubters wrong, including Popovich and Duncan.
The most important thing for me was showing Pop and Duncan that I deserved to be there. I was aware of Duncan’s doubts. When the Spurs drafted me, he said, “But why are we drafting a European point guard? We’ll never win a title with a European point guard.”
Parker, who played for Paris Basket Racing in France before entering the 2001 NBA Draft, was a relative unknown as a rookie, and Popovich and the front office took a gamble by selecting him in the first round with the 28th overall pick.
After a strong first season that saw him named to the All Rookie First Team, Parker didn’t look back and went on to be a six-time All Star and four-time All-NBA selection. The guard even won Finals MVP in 2007. More importantly, he helped the Spurs become a perennial title contender, winning multiple titles with Duncan and Ginobili and proving that San Antonio could indeed win with a European point guard.
Duncan is certainly happy that he was so wrong about this one.