By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
In his book “Beyond All of My Dreams,” former four-time NBA champion Tony Parker mentions the doubts that his longtime teammate Tim Duncan initially had for him when the San Antonio Spurs picked him in 2001.
“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 writes in his book, per HoopsHype. Duncan was already a superstar, being the NBA Finals MVP in 1999.
Parker explains why there was such sentiment and why his case was different than the one of Manu Ginobili, who arrived at the Spurs after playing in EuroLeague with Virtus Bologna.
“At the beginning of the 2000s, when you had your eye on winning titles, taking a non-American on for that position was risky. When you’re the team’s superstar, like Duncan was, and you draft a European point guard, it’s actually super risky. Technically, I was their first real project. For example, when Manu Ginobili arrived at the age of 25, he had already won the EuroLeague and was an accomplished player. With me, everything remained to be seen.”
The Spurs acquired Parker with the 28th overall pick, a spot that the French great said that he was what he was actually shooting for since he didn’t want to be among the top selections. He compares his situation with fellow French guard Frank Ntilikina who was the eighth overall pick by the New York Knicks and didn’t land on a winning team.
“Being drafted at the top really wasn’t one of my goals,” Parker said. “Not at all. Look at Frank Ntilikina. He was drafted eighth. He was a top French player and look what team he plays for. I didn’t want that. Being drafted by a good team at the end of the first round gives you a couple of years to make your way, like I did in Paris after Sciarra. I know the NBA history really well. I know how it works if you’re chosen at the top. It can take four years before being traded to a good team. That wasn’t for me. I play basketball to win titles and didn’t want to lose four or five years of my career.”