San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich has been there since day one of Tony Parker's NBA career at the ripe age of 19-years old.
From throwing Tony right into the fire as a rookie, being very demanding of his play to seeing him become the face of the team, Popovich may not take claim at molding Parker into the MVP-caliber player he is today but he does deserve a pat on the back.
So when Team France and Parker captured EuroBasket gold recently, Popovich was quick to shower Parker with praise and say just how proud he is of the All-Star guard.
"After the Finals (against Lithuania), I told him two things," says "Pop." "First, I'm incredibly happy for you because it puts you on another level to help your country win is more special than you. Now have a special place in the history of French sports. Secondly, I told him how proud I was of his development."
High praise coming from one of the most demanding coaches in the NBA but Parker deserves it and more.
What NBA star would sacrifice his time and body to play for his native country especially after a long run in the NBA Finals like Parker did this summer? A few would but Tony was determined to bring glory to France and put the team in a position to capture the ultimate prize – Olympic gold.
Now he face the tough task of resting as quickly as possible with the start of the Spurs training camp coming soon.
And though most Spurs fans (and perhaps the coaching staff) would have preferred Parker to rest this summer, seeing Parker rejoice after defeating Lithuania was a moment the entire Spurs family beamed with pride.
It will be a moment Parker never would forget nor will Popovich. For the often labeled grumpy coach, Pop's pride in seeing that 19-year old raw rookie from France become a legend in his home country.
"I'm lucky to have R.C. (Buford) and 'Coach Pop' who let me play for my country. They know that I love playing for my country. I take great pride in play for France. I'm just happy that the Spurs let me do it," said Parker.