Tony Parker is 35. Always the youngest, most impetuous of the Spurs Big Three, he was also often the best scorer among them. Though Manu Ginobili could pile it on and Tim Duncan was a steady beat, Parker — all 6’2″ of him — once led the NBA in points scored in the paint. He knew how to get to the hole, despite his crossovers not being the kind that SportsCenter necessarily featured in the highlight reel. These days Parker plays less (25.4 mpg), but the Spurs still consider him a great leader. Parker takes that responsibility seriously. After all, he had a great role model– the inimitable Duncan.
NBA.com reports that the San Antonio Express News asked Parker about his role –and Parker told journalist Jeff McDonald:
“I think my role is even bigger on the leadership thing, make sure that the Spurs mentality and the way we play — unselfish, sharing the ball, only caring about winning — stays the same. That was the best thing about Timmy when I first came in, showing all of us how to do it.”
Parker, though he may not admit it, likely doesn’t mind being underestimated at this point in his career. The starting point guard on a team that wins 60 games, again? He’ll take that into the playoffs and take his tattered body out onto the floor for another go-round. Parker’s still a terror when he’s feeling spry enough to get into the paint. And he knows how to lead. He learned it from the best. It’s, as he says, the “Spurs mentality and the way we play.”