Tim Duncan didn’t speak with rookie Tony Paker

After three successful runs to the NBA title in 2003, 2005 and 2007, it is safe to say San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are on the same page and have impeccable chemistry.

Then again, maybe it took a while for that to develop.

When Parker was a rookie in the 2001-02 season, Duncan didn’t really speak with Parker since Duncan needed time to trust the young French point guard.

“He didn’t talk to me for a whole year,” Parker said after practice Monday, reflecting on his rookie season in 2001-02 when it wasn’t just a French-English language barrier that wedged a gap between the two. “It was kind of weird coming from France and you have your superstar player that doesn’t talk to you as a point guard, it’s kind of tough, you know? Because you’re supposed to talk to everybody.

“But as we grew together in the league and he trusted me more, I can really say it’s a special relationship because I feel close to him on the court. But even off the court, we’ve both been through a lot of stuff throughout our career so I think it got us closer.”

Tough many might jump the gun and think TD was tough on the young Parker, consider this… No. 9 was a 19-year old rookie who was about to lead a veteran-heavy squad. It be pretty tough for any veteran player to entrust the reigns to a teen. Especially a team on the verge of winning titles as the Spurs won.

Fast forward to today, and Parker not only helped guide the Spurs to a couple of more titles after 2003, he has become a multiple All-Star, won the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, considered on of the top point guards in the league, and is clearly the face of the franchise.

Safe to say Parker has earned Duncan’ respect.

“I think you had to earn his respect, I guess,” Parker said. “That’s fair, when you’re 19. That’s how I felt, that I had to earn the respect of my teammates and my coaches. Especially Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich). For the first 3-4 years, it was like war with him.”

It may have been like war with Duncan, but now they are in the trenches together in the war that is called the NBA playoffs. The two have seen it all as teammates and Parker has earned Duncan’s respect.