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SPURS GAMEDAY: Big Three will reunite on court one final time for retirement of Parker’s jersey number

Written by on November 11, 2019

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili will speak at ceremony honoring Tony Parker after Monday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Grizzlies’ injury/inactive report: Guard Grayson Allen (left ankle soreness), out; forward Andre Iguodala (not with team), out; forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. (G League), out; guard/forward Josh Jackson (G League), available; guard John Konchar (G League), out; guard/forward Yuta Watanabe (G League), out.

Spurs’ injury/inactive report: Forward Drew Eubanks (G League), out; guard/forward Keldon Johnson (G League), out; forward Luka Samanic (G League), out; guard Quindarry Weatherspoon (G League), out.

Notable: Memphis has lost two in a row and five of its last six . . . After playing the Grizzlies, the Spurs have road games against Minnesota on Wednesday and Orlando on Friday. They end the week at home against Portland on Saturday . . . The 72 points the Silver and Black gave up in their 20-point loss to Boston on Saturday are the most they’ve yielded in a half this season.

GAME PREVIEW

For a while Monday night, the Spurs’ iconic Big Three will be together again on the court at the AT&T Center.

The air will be thick with nostalgia when the Spurs retire former point guard Tony Parker’s jersey number in a ceremony after Monday night’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The event also will mark the official end of one of the greatest eras in NBA history.

Parker was the last of the NBA’s winningest trio to retire, following Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Duncan, in his first season as a Spurs assistant coach, Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich will speak during the ceremony.

“Tony will love the experience,” Popovich said with a chuckle. “Timmy and Manu, that’s not their thing. This is Tony’s thing. He only has 100 people he brought in from France.”

Parker’s No..9 jersey will be raised to the rafters at the AT&T Center during Monday night’s ceremony, joining Duncan’s No. 21 and Ginobili’s No. 20. Duncan, the only Spur to play on all five of the franchise’s championships, retired after the 2015-16 season and Ginobili ended his career in the summer of 2018.

Parker, 37, won four NBA titles in 17 seasons with the Silver and Black before signing with Charlotte in the summer of 2018. He played with the Hornets for one season before retiring this summer.

“Happy for him,” current Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray said. “He deserves it. I remember when TD (Duncan) got his retired, Tony was excited because he knew his day would come.

“Like last year, Manu got his retired. TP knew the next year was going be his turn. I’m excited for him, the whole Spurs organization, the fans are excited for him.”

Murray succeeded Parker as the team’s starting point guard in January 2018. 

Parker will be the 10th player in franchise history to have his jersey retired. 

A lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Parker averaged 31.1 minutes, 15.8 points, 5.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds in his 17 seasons with the Spurs. A six-time All-Star, he was MVP of the 2007 Finals. Parker holds the San Antonio record for career assists with 6,829. 

Duncan, Ginobili and Parker were teammates for 14 seasons, winning four championships and setting the tone for one of pro sports’ most successful franchises with their professionalism, loyalty and consistency.

Parker, Duncan and Ginobili earned the respect and admiration of NBA coaches for their commitment to the team and willingness to sacrifice personal glory to pursue the ultimate goal: to win championships.

“I think this happens on great teams,” Oklahoma City coch Billy Donovan said before the Thunder played the Spurs on Thursday at the At&T Center. “Everybody can always do a little bit more, but sometimes doing a little bit less allows a team to do more.

“They probably all, numbers-wise, could have done more. The way they approached the game and the way they played with one another, it speaks to their greatness as winners. For Tony, that was the thing that stood out. He was a really great winner.

Boston coach Brad Stevens expressed similar thoughts when the Silver and Black hosted the Celtics two nights later.

“Maybe he wouldn’t have been the perfect fit with other franchises,” Stevens said, referring to Parker. “He was a special player and a special talent, and I thought they brought that out of each other.”

Popovich always said Parker was the Silver and Black’s offensive engine. Duncan was the cornerstone and Ginobili its heart and soul, but it was Parker who made the Spurs go with his lightning-quick drives to the basket and offensive execution.

Parker, Duncan and Ginobili own the NBA’s all-time record for wins by a trio with 575, including the playoffs. 

Only 19 when he reported to his first training camp with the Spurs in 2001, Parker became San Antonio’s starting point guard five games into his rookie season. The next year, he won his first of his four league championships with the Silver and Black.

Parker already had played pro basketball for two seasons in France when the Spurs selected him with the 28th overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft. Parker faced a steep learning curve as a rookie despite his pro experience in Europe.

Popovich rode Parker hard in those early days, but Parker never broke. He adapted to Pop’s coaching and learned the NBA game, improving steadily and eventually becoming one of the league’s top point guards.

“During training camp and then in the first couple of games, I was really tough on him,” Popovich recalled. “Gave him a lot of things to think about, a lot of things to do, put him on the best players on the other team whenever I could.

“And he showed that he had the fortitude and the courage to do this, and that the challenge of taking over a team that’s supposed to be successful wasn’t going to matter to him. He was just going to play. So I gave him the ball and said, ‘This is yours. Figure it out, and I’m going to love you and I’m going to dump on you, both at the same time.’ And that’s what we did.” For all of his success, Parker may never had played for the success if he hadn’t gotten a second workout with the Spurs before the 2001 NBA Draft.




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