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Thank you Tony Parker

The game is losing one of the greats.

Atlanta Hawks v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Tony Parker is hanging up his sneaks at 37 years of age. After his 18th season in the league, number nine announced yesterday that he will be retiring from the National Basketball Association. The list of career accomplishments is as long as his career was: Four NBA Titles, Six All-Star Appearances, NBA Finals MVP 2007, three All-NBA Second teams, and he has represented France on numerous occasions, on numerous stages throughout his career.

Those numbers are certainly impressive and easy to read from any aggregator. What will be harder to understand is his impact on the game on the court. Tony was a scrappy, score-first point guard in a Popovich system that turned him into the best player he could be. Back when information from international basketball talent was sparse, 2001, Tony was drafted 28th in the first round, even though he had been tearing up the European under-18 teams for years.

The combination of Tony and Tim Duncan was methodical and paced to the point of being mundane to an outsider. They would high pick-and-roll over and over like an ocean tide waiting for the opponent to slip in judgment, then take advantage. I assume we will be inundated with viral moments from Tony’s career. But the championship Spurs were whatever the opposite of viral is… they were the cure. Unless we come up with some listicles like Top 10 Moments When Someone Did their Job or The Best Gameplan Execution Ever. Tony Parker and the Spurs played basketball, and it was a beautiful game.

Last year, Tony came to the Hornets from San Antonio with James Boregeo. There was a lot of surprise of his departure, but quotes since made it clear that the Spurs didn’t pursue him, and the Hornets organization made it clear that he was wanted. He was brought in to be a reliable option for point guard off the bench and be a veteran, champion presence in the locker-room. He did the former in spurts but did the latter with aplomb. Tony’s most notable moment as a hornet was when an exhausted Kemba fell into Tony’s shoulder as if to say, thanks for the support.

Personally, as a basketball fan, I will always remember Tony Parker for three things. First, he owned Steve Nash in the playoffs. Second, in a matter of months he became an emotional anchor for The Captain Kemba Walker. And Third, Eva Longoria sat courtside when I watched the Spurs in the early to mid-2000s. Au Revoir, Tony Parker, we’ll always have Charlotte!