SAN ANTONIO - Tony Parker reflected on his time with the Spurs in an emotional letter to the organization and fans that was posted on the Players’ Tribune on Monday morning.
Parker signed with Charlotte this offseason after 17 seasons and four championships in San Antonio.
The only public comments Parker had made about his departure were to the Undefeated’s Marc Spears immediately after news broke of him signing with the Hornets.
In the heartfelt letter, Parker reflected on his first visit to San Antonio for a workout before the 2001 NBA draft.
He was only 19 years old at the time and said his first workout was a “disaster,” but wrote head coach Gregg Popovich gave him a second chance, invited him back for another work out and ultimately selected him in the draft.
He wrote what makes Popovich such a unique coach are his principles, which were established from the start and haven't changed since.
Good or bad, Popovich always spoke the truth to Parker. “It’s no B.S. when he’s giving you these words of encouragement...and it’s no B.S. when he’s giving you these words of criticism,” Parker wrote.
Parker joined a roster that was ready to compete for a championship on a yearly basis.
He had his ups and downs early in his career which he chronicled in the letter, but was always able to lean on teammates.
Parker said the veterans on the team embraced him, and wrote about David Robinson’s impact on him as a young player.
“You have this first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he’s in the middle of another championship run — and yet somehow he is not viewing me, this young guy getting brought along at the same time, as a burden.”
The quote continued, “With David, and with the other veteran players on the Spurs, it always felt like this was just the natural way of things. Everyone had their expectation of winning championships.”
Tony Parker goes in-depth into #Spurs culture, talks Pop, Duncan and Manu in an emotional letter he penned on the @PlayersTribune. STORY➡️ https://t.co/TEKjayL4Ya #KSATsports #KSATnews #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/w5iOg5gzJl — RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) August 6, 2018
Parker also went in-depth into the “Spurs culture” and said it exists because of Tim Duncan.
“The thing with Tim is that he wasn’t only the greatest player for those years. He was also the greatest teammate. I don’t think people realize how much of our team’s entire culture could really be brought back to just Tim being Tim. That’s the truth,” Parker wrote.
Parker added Duncan "was the most coachable great player of all time," and the greatest player he's ever played with.
"Guys would come in, take a look around, and eventually they would do as Tim does," Parker wrote. "That was Spurs Culture."
The letter featured lighter moments as well with Parker writing Manu Ginobili was unstoppable with his "floppy hair" and the three still get together for dinner on occasion and go down memory lane.
Parker shed light on the decision to bring him off the bench last year and start second-year point guard Dejounte Murray, writing that he went to Popovich and Murray, and told both it would be best for the team.
When it came to the championships, Parker said it never mattered who was leading the charge, but all they wanted to do was win together because it was the "Spurs Way."
“Timmy and Manu and I, you’ve never seen such smiles as the ones we had on when we are lifting that trophy,” Parker wrote.
Parker concluded by thanking the organization and the fans for the support over the years. He wrote he is excited to be in Charlotte, but San Antonio will always be home.
“While I won’t try to define who I’ve become, over these last 17 years, in a single letter … I can say this for sure: I have the Spurs and I have San Antonio to thank for it. And I will carry that with pride,” Parker concluded.
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