San Antonio Spurs fans know Tony Parker well, as the all-star point guard has been a Spur since he was 19-years-old.
The journey from taking over as starting point guard as a young rookie to learning through tough love from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and now becoming undoubtedly one of the top ten players in the NBA gives Spurs fans a good sample size of information on the guard.
But his French teammates, who have been playing with him well before his NBA days see him in a different light, as a player that thrives in competition and lifts the entire team.
Mickaël Gelabale, whom the Spurs have worked out on numerous occasions, said with Parker he has less pressure on his shoulders, has fewer doubts and it gives him the space to take outside shots when the defense funnels in to try to avoid Parker’s penetration.
Trailblazers forward Nicolas Batum says to this day Parker still surprises him.
Via French site Le nouvel Observateur:
"Even though I've known him since we were very young, even though I played with him for fifteen years, when I play with him he continues to surprise me, doing stuff that I do not expect," said Batum.
"When he accelerates, he has such a burst of speed that even we, his teammates, we are often amazed by his liveliness and creativity.”
After having a MVP-caliber year in 2011-12 only to suffer from injury later in the season, Parker followed it with MVP whispers coming his way yet again. While Parker always dismisses questions about being an MVP candidate, there is no doubt his Les Bleus teammates clearly see him as their MVP.
“When he is with us, everyone asks fewer questions, and he gives the best of himself. Suddenly, everyone is fired up.”
Parker will look to fire up his teammates as they begin play in Eurobasket in Slovenia tomorrow in their first Group A match against Germany.