Friendship before rivalry for Parker, Sefolosha

The San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will likely always be rivals as long as both clubs remain atop the Western Conference. The Spurs and Thunder have always jockeyed for position at the top of the conference.

Aside from that, losing to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals two years ago kept the Spurs motivated throughout the season, and it provides enough fuel to keep the rivalry going.

However, for Spurs guard Tony Parker and Thunder defensive ace Thabo Sefolosha, they remain close friends through the rivalry, even if Sefolosha’s lockdown defense against his chum was key in turning a 2-0 series lead for the Spurs into four straight wins for the Thunder and a trip to the NBA Finals.

“With Thabo we share our journey and our ambitions. Since he was drafted ­we met and we always stayed in contact. With some Americans, friendship is feigned. Not with him.,” Parker said in an interview with French site 20min.ch.

It likely helps that Sefolosha speaks Parker’s native language. The Thunder swingman is from Switzerland, where one of the primary languages is French and he spent three seasons in France playing for Elan Chalon prior to the start of his NBA career.

As I do not speak English well, Thabo helped me a lot. More seriously, the language has been a factor of rapprochement. The French-speaking players of the NBA stand together. His wife also always prepares my goat cheese salad when we meet.

Last week, Parker played in Sefolosha’s charity game in Switzerland, which closed of Seflosha’s two-week children’s basketball camp. Parker said he accepted Seflosha’s invitation because he wanted to put on a good game for the kids.

Let’s just hope Sefolosha kept the French trash talk he was spewing at Parker during the 2011 Western Conference Finals away from the charity game and saves it for when the Spurs and Thunder meet up next season.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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