SAN ANTONIO – With Tony Parker'sreturn to San Antonio set for Monday, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich took some time before Thursday night's game to reflect on Parker's time with the franchise.
Popovich said the pair still speak frequently and he's anxious about Parker's return.
Parker came to San Antonio from France at the age of 18 and spent 17 seasons in San Antonio before signing with Charlotte this offseason.
"He’s always going to be a part of my thoughts," Popovich said. "He is a special young man, and I always felt like a second daddy to him over the years, and he’s always been like a son in all kinds of ways."
Popovich lauded Parker's toughness throughout his career and said as difficult and "weird" as it will be to see Parker not in Spurs colors at the AT&T Center, he is happy for him.
“It pulls at the heartstrings a little bit, but the situation is great for him. He’s doing a great job,” Popovich said. "He’s landed in a good place and he’s having a good season and he’s happy, so as long as he’s happy, I’m happy."
Before tonight’s #Spurs game...Coach Popovich discussed Tony Parker’s return on Monday night. Pop said he’s happy for TP and he’s a friend for life, but seeing him in another uniform “pulls at the heart strings a little bit” #ksatsports #KSATnews #GoSpursGo #NBA pic.twitter.com/18cGhpljV5— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 11, 2019
Parker won four NBA championships in San Antonio alongside Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. He was part of the Spurs' famed "Big Three" and will have his No. 9 jersey retired when he wraps up his career.
Monday night's game is Parker's only scheduled visit this season as a member of the Hornets.
"He’s just a friend for life and someone I will always care about, so it will be great to see him when he comes back into town," Popovich said.
More Popovich reflecting on return of Tony Parker on Monday night with #Hornets...says TP will "always be a part of my thoughts and he's been like a son in all kinds of ways" (📹@markmendez) #Spurs #GoSpursGo #KSATsports #KSATnews #NBA pic.twitter.com/snPwIVUUhQ— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) January 11, 2019