'Like a son': Popovich reflects on Tony Parker as Spurs great set to return tonight

Parker to return as member of Hornets on Monday

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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."

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.

About the Author:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.