It's been less than a month since the San Antonio Spurs' last game — and we know how that one turned out. Tony Parker, with plenty of time to decompress, analyze and reflect their championship run, talked with FIBA.com about the NBA Finals and his expectations with the French national team.
The Miami Heat have only lost one playoff series since LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed, though they have came dangerously close to dropping multiple times. Parker's Spurs couldn't suffocate the Heat when they had the chance, but he still expects to compete next year.
"We had a great season even if we lost in the Finals," Parker said. "Nobody expected us to reach the Finals again but we almost won the title. The games were incredibly good and both teams could have won the ring. The Miami Heat are an incredible team and won Game 7, but we're not inferior to them. The Heat made the difference on some details and the decision was made in the last minute of the last game. We will work hard and come back stronger next season to try to win the title. We're still one of the most competitive teams in the NBA."
Parker turned 31 during the NBA playoffs, and has at least 34,975 minutes on his odometer, not including time he's accumulated with the French national team. It wouldn't be foolish to expect some regression, given the toll professional basketball exerts on the body.
Well, okay, nevermind. In many respects, it was Parker's best season to date. He averaged 20.3 points and 7.6 assists per game, both marks nearly topping his previous career-highs. His Player Efficiency Rating (23.0) was his highest since the 2008-09 season, while his true shooting percentage (.588), an all-inclusive shooting efficiency metric, is a new career high. For his efforts, Parker was named to the All-NBA second team, along with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, New York's Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles' Blake Griffin and Memphis' Marc Gasol.
"I did my best to help my team reach the title," Parker said. "I was healthy most of the season and worked hard to be the best player and competitor I could be. It's an honour to be named in the All-NBA second team alongside great players such as Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Marc Gasol and Russell Westbrook. I'm satisfied with my season at a personal level, even if I feel frustrated to have lost the title."
Parker will also participate with the French national team in the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia. France harbors several NBA caliber players, but Parker remains the captain, the leader, and unequivocally holds the reigns of the offense. It's a responsibility Parker embraces, and he wants to eventually obtain an elusive gold medal for his country.
"I never compare my NBA career with my national team career," Parker said. "It's completely different. Playing for your country is an honour. I give a lot of importance to representing my country and making people proud and happy for the national team. I remember how people were happy when we won the silver medal in 2011 in Lithuania. I want to win titles with the 'blue' jersey. It's one of my dreams and I'll work hard to reach it.
We'll fight to win the title. That's what everyone wants. After the bronze medal in 2005 and the silver in 2011, we hope to bring home gold. French basketball deserves a gold medal. It's something that I've been dreaming of and I'll do my best to win a trophy for my country. The tournament will be very competitive, but we have to do better than we did in 2011."