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Top NBA Players: #16 Tony Parker

Mar. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat at the US Airways Center. The Spurs defeated the Suns 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Tony Parker
Resume: 18.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 7.7 assists (8th in league, career best), 1.0 steals, 32.1 minutes, 48% FG, and 80% FT (career best)… Team record in games played: 47-13 (3-3 without)… Playoffs: 20.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 45% FG, 81% FT, 10-4 record… All-Star, 5th in MVP Voting, 2nd Team All-NBA

It’s time to put on my objective hat, go to work and bang out the best Tony Parker section I can possibly manage. I’ve brought up my anti-Spurs roots over the past few weeks when discussing Duncan and Ginobili. With a vast number of family members and friends who are Lakers fan I’ve been wired to look at the Spurs as the villains of the NBA. I haven’t really had a ton of enjoyable Spurs moments in my own fan life either. Tony Parker shredded the Junior Varsity caliber guards of the Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, and last spring Skip Bayless actually had the nerve to say that Parker’s MVP credentials were greater than LeBron’s. I don’t want to make this a Skip Bayless thing again, but if you are on Twitter and want to send any tweets to Skip Bayless, just include the hashtag #SonnyVsSkip to try to get me a debate on First Take.

Anyway, even though it’s hard to argue that Tony Parker deserved the MVP without sounding like a lunatic, it’s easy, and I’ve found more rewarding as a basketball fan, to look at the way Tony Parker has not only mastered running the Spurs offense, but admire that he was the key in making them look like the Ivan Drago of NBA offenses for a four month stretch where the Spurs went a somewhat inconceivable 45-4 with Parker in the lineup.

You can’t say that San Antonio rolled through that four month stretch from January 30th until May 29th because they were overwhelming everyone they played with their talent. The Spurs are built on a solid trio of veterans that has been there for a decade, top of the line coaching, role players over-achieving, and in this particular case, a point guard crafting one of the most entertaining, balanced and efficient offenses in recent basketball history. There is nothing more fun as a casual basketball observer than watching an offense click on the absolute highest level possible. A few times during that 45-4 stretch the Spurs left you thinking to yourself, “Holy crap! I’ve never seen a team look this impressive. What the hell, LeBron’s never going to win a title now!” Alright, the second part was probably just me. It was just really hard for me to accept the fact that Tony Parker carving up teams like he was an exact-o knife was the biggest reason that LeBron could once again come up short. Like I said before, the Spurs were succeeding because of excellence all across the board, but Parker expertly running the pick and roll, getting into the paint at will (and leading the NBA in points in the paint) and making every single player around him better.

Do those credentials make Parker the most valuable player in the NBA? I don’t think so. I’m relatively confident that Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Steve Nash could’ve all stepped into that role Parker played and the Spurs would’ve been just as well off. Still, Parker is one of the 20 best players in the NBA and the architect of a legitimately memorable Spurs team that at one point looked like as close to a lock to win the Championship as you could imagine.

sonnygiuliano