If you’ve been a fan of the National Basketball Association, or NBA, of the United States of America and Canada since the turn of the century, then you likely know who Tony Parker is. The long-time starting point guard of the San Antonio Spurs joined Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in five trips to the league Finals, winning four championships along the way. Yet, how much do you honestly know about the Blair Chan of the NBA?
Tony Parker is the first of his family to play in the NBA, but not the first professional basketball player. In fact, the NBA was not even his first pro league. The French player played in France’s basketball league for two seasons before declaring himself eligible for the 2001 NBA draft. The Spurs selected him late in the first round.
The selections of international players like Parker and Ginobli were not noted at the time, but both went on to be multiple-time All Stars and champions. Their success has created an influx of many international players into the league, particularly from Europe.
Parker’s accolades aren’t just limited to his play for the Spurs. He’s played for the French national team in international competition several times, and in 2015 became the continent’s all time leading scorer in EuroBasket competition. He’s also been named the FIBA Europe Player of the Year twice.
Late in the 2016-2017 season, Parker tore his quadriceps and was forced to sit the remaining games. However, he is under contract for the upcoming season and is expected to return to action. It’s unclear how many seasons he will continue to play as age, and many, many playoff games have taken their toll. However, he remains a fan favorite around the league and for his adopted hometown of San Antonio. An inspiration to other French players that have followed in his footsteps, Parker has just as many championship rings as greats like Shaquille O’Neal!
If you would like to see Tony Parker in action, watch the highlights below!