The end of an era has arrived: Tony Parker is no longer the starting guard of the San Antonio Spurs.
The 35-year-old NBA star confirmed the news himself during a post-game interview Sunday with the San Antonio ExpressNews after the Spurs’ 94-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Parker claimed that he heard the news of his removal from the Spurs starting lineup directly from the team’s head coach, Gregg Popovich. He further expressed his trust and reliance in his coach’s vision and decision-making process for the team, especially since similar decisions have been made regarding Parker’s longtime teammates in the past.
“[Gregg Popovich] told me he thought it was time, and I was like, ‘No problem.’ Just like Manu (Ginobili), just like Pau (Gasol), you know that day is going to come. If Pop sees something that is good for the team, I will try to do my best.”
Tony Parker also stated that he will support Popovich’s decision to remove him from the starting lineup in favor of Dejounte Murray and will try to assist the young star as much as he can. He even said that he will continue to strive for excellence within the second unit, alongside Mills and Ginobili, an honorable statement when you consider the longtime loyalty that Tony Parker has shown since he first joined the Spurs roster nearly 17 years ago.
— Tsewole Panseh (@TsewolePanseh) January 22, 2018
It may have been an initial shock for San Antonio Spurs fans to not see Tony Parker standing at center court when the game first started. Any doubts or uncertainties about Parker even being present or possibly injured were erased when he was called from the bench for the very first time this season and ended the game with just 12 points in 20 minutes. However, it is imperative for Spurs fans to come to grips with the grim reality of this situation. As shown on Twitter, though, it does not seem to be very much of a surprise to those who have felt for quite some time that Parker should announce his retirement and move on, especially when you consider his recent history of injuries, which have kept him away from the active playing roster.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) June 6, 2017
Here it goes: My yearly “Tony Parker needs to retire” tweet. Still going strong. If the Spurs had a decent starting pg they would be a threat in the West. Alas that is not the case.
— TDreamwork (@TDreamwork) December 22, 2017
I think the likes of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili of the @spurs are part their prime and must retire now.
— WillHuncho (@UncleWill14) January 20, 2018
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili May retire after this season would be SAD to see but they have to move on and build for the future!!! #GoSpursGo
— Bryon H???????? (@bdizzle1baller) January 22, 2018
Kinda ready to see Tony Parker retire now so this kid can lead the way at the point https://t.co/HygEI63TF0
— Pat McCaw Stan (@_nickdormus) October 25, 2017
Parker’s history with the San Antonio Spurs actually dates back to before the 2001 NBA Draft. Multiple reports confirm that Tony Parker was not that impressive during his first workout with the Spurs. However, Popovich was willing to give him another chance for an interview and a workout, an opportunity for redemption that Tony Parker apparently did not take for granted. He was later selected with the 28th overall pick at the 2001 NBA Draft and has been part of the Spurs roster ever since.
It did not take long for Tony Parker to find his stride and shine as the starting point guard of the San Antonio Spurs, especially when his skills were further enhanced by the likes of such legendary teammates as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and rising star Kawhi Leonard. Over the years, Parker has added quite a few accolades and accomplishments to his career resume, including four NBA championships, six NBA All-Star games, and the title of the 2007 NBA Finals MVP. If he does decide to retire after the current season, it would mark the end of an era for yet another future Hall of Famer that made his mark while wearing a Spurs jersey.