SAN ANTONIO – In his first interview since he was seriously injured in the NBA playoffs, Tony Parker sat down with French-based sports newspaper L’Equipe on his season-ending injury, rehabilitation and his future with the San Antonio Spurs.
Parker, who was averaging 15.9 points on 53 percent shooting with 3.1 assists in eight playoff games, expressed his frustration with L’Equipe’s journalist, David Loriot, saying the Spurs had an opportunity to win a title this year before he went down in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets with a ruptured left quadriceps tendon.
The interview was conducted in French, but here’s what Parker had to say when translated in English via Google Translate.
"The first feeling that comes when I hurt myself is frustration. I was super good, we had an opportunity to go to the end, to go get a title. These kinds of opportunities, you do not have a thousand times in your career. So on the spot, I'm frustrated.”
-David Loriot, L’Equipe
Parker told Loriot that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had a strategic plan to limit his number of minutes during the regular season and let loose to play at a high level in the playoffs.
“The plan we developed with 'Pop' which consisted in managing me all the season by making me play twenty-five minutes per game, walked like clockwork. I had a big series against Memphis, I had started well against Houston. But hey, it's like that. It's life. We do not have that kind of control. This type of injury never happens in basketball, there is a 1% chance that it will happen! It fell on me.”
-David Loriot, L’Equipe
During Game 2 with less than nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, Parker drove to the basket, lifting off his left leg for his signature teardrop to only quickly go down to the floor holding his left leg in obvious pain.
The 34-year-old point guard was seen trying to put weight on his left leg but later had to be carried off the floor by his teammates and was carted in a wheelchair to the Spurs locker room.
In the article, Parker said he knew the injury was serious and felt his “left leg was paralyzed."
Since the operation, learning how to walk again has been the most difficult task but he's fortunate to have "zero pain" during his process.
“For sixteen days, I was paralyzed,” Parker told L’Equipe. “I looked at my leg and said to my brain, ‘Raise your leg!’ and it did not work.”
In the article, Parker went on to say his eye injury he suffered back in 2012 that nearly cost his vision and almost caused him to miss the Olympics was much more serious than his leg injury he suffered nearly four weeks ago.
“My eye injury (in 2012) was much more serious. I was much more afraid than with my leg. I was two millimeters from no longer seeing the left eye and there, the career is over,” Parker said.
Parker told Loriot his rehabilitation will take anywhere between six to eight months, but according to his doctors, he will be “free” on Oct. 20 and will take anywhere between a month or two to get back to his level of play.
“If I did not return for the first game of the season, it is not the end of the world. The most important remains the playoffs,” Parker told L’Equipe. “In my head, I will return whatever happens and I will play my best basketball early January.”
With many basketball critics saying his career is over, Parker was asked by Loriot if he listens to those who doubt he can come back, given his age and the amount of years he's played in the NBA.
“I'm going to muscle like a sick man to come back even stronger. It may be an evil for a good. Afterwards, people who say I will not come back, I do not listen to them.”
When asked by Loriot if he followed the Spurs during the playoffs after seeing Kawhi Leonard go down with an ankle injury during Game 1 and then forward David Lee during Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors, he simply answered by saying, “It was not our year.”